From John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau:
A legislative panel today failed to endorse state spending from a multimillion-dollar federal grant to implement a key component of the national health care reform law.
State Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford had sought an endorsement from the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee for the state Insurance Department’s use of a $7.7 million federal grant to fund various aspects of planning for a federally mandated health insurance exchange in Arkansas.
The subcommittee voted 10-3 on the request, with 11 votes needed for a favorable review from the 20-member panel.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires the creation of insurance exchanges in every state by 2014. States were given the option of setting up their own exchanges, but Arkansas declined, so the state’s exchange will be run by the federal government.
Bradford was seeking permission to spend federal money to establish a partnership with federal officials that would give Arkansas some authority, including regulatory power, in operating the exchange in the state. Without the partnership, the state would lose any control over the exchange, he said.
“I just don’t want it to (slip) through our hands for our people here,” Bradford said.
Republicans lawmakers questioned the need to spend any money on an operation that might not survive a court challenge.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in legal challenges to the federal health care law last week. A ruling is expected in June.
You can read more from Lyon’s report at this link.