Six States Opt Out of Protecting Consumers Under Obamacare

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Six GOP-led states have decided not to uphold the most fundamental consumer protection and market reforms of the Affordable Care Act, including the ban on denial of coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming will not enforce the most popular health insurance reforms prescribed by Obamacare. They’re happy to utilize the government’s more competitive private health insurance market, but they’re not interested in policing that marketplace to make sure consumers don’t get ripped off.

Most states haven’t set up a state-based insurance marketplace. Instead, the federal government will facilitate a marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Federal law will require each state to enforce regulations and provisions within that marketplace, unless it notifies the government that it cannot or will not.

These six states have opted out, meaning they won’t police insurers to protect the interest of the consumer. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will have to take up the responsibility for investigating consumer complaints and industry reforms in Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

It appears that for those buying health insurance for the first time through the federal insurance marketplace it could be a pretty harrowing experience trying to figure out who is supposed to help you. You could rack up a number of bills before you figure out where to file a complaint.

Texas claims it won’t enforce restrictions and consumer protections because the authority over a federal marketplace belongs to the government, but Stacy Pogue of the Center for Public Policy Priorities called that a smokescreen. Texas enforced plenty of other federal laws on a statewide level in the past.

Sources: ThinkProgress, Texas Tribune