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States’ Obligatory Role In Healthcare Reform

­Last week’s healthcare rhetoric provided the suspected uncertainty of the constitutionality of the individual mandate and its severability from the Affordable Care Act.  Where the individual mandate proves inapplicable through the federal government, states will maintain the means to do so.  California is among the states that are moving in the direction of reform. Legislators in Sacramento are proposing legislation that could pose a state substitute if the federal overhaul is struck down.  The main push is to insure all Californians, lowering the costs for everyone. 

Currently, the average Californian family pays an additional $1,400 in premiums annually to cover the costs of the 7 million uninsured, or about 21% of the population, according to the California HealthCare Foundation.  The thought of getting everyone insured will prevent the current cost shifting.  Advocates argue that buying health insurance is no different from state mandated car insurance.  Legislators aim to add incentives for healthy consumers to buy insurance by implementing an enrollment period, which will have subsequent penalties for those who sign up late. 

In addition, Sacramento plans to continue developing a state based insurance exchange program to decrease the costs and increase the competitiveness of insurance premiums.  When Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2008, California was one of the first states to take on the newly federally funded task of implementing state based insurance exchanges.  Sacramento plans to continue in this direction to decrease the costs and increase the competitiveness of insurance premiums.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) leaves much to be regulated by the federal government if upheld.  Regardless of the outcome of the ACA, states need to play a strong role in their healthcare reform in order to succinctly to garner a program that fits their needs.

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