By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) also known as Obamacare is for conservatives perhaps the most hated piece of legislation to ever. No matter how one feels about PPACA it is a government mandated fact of life, unless something changes in a big way.
Last year a commission was established at the request of Governor Robert Bentley with a directive to bring together a plan for an Alabama Heath Exchange.
The Health Exchanges are a part of the process of implementing the Affordable Care Act.
The Commission delivered its proposal to the Governor’s office around that December 5, 2010, but no action has taken place toward a agreed upon solution.
The Chairman of the Alabama House Health Committee Rep. Dr. Jim McClendon (R-Spring), has called a public hearing for Wednesday, March 14 at 9:00 a.m. in room 807.
At the hearing HB245 a bill sponsored by Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) will be discussed.
Wren’s bill would establish a Health Exchange apparatus for the State of Alabama, an action that must be completed by December 31, 2012.
“This is a mandate that was thrust upon the state with tremendous obligations.” said the bill’s sponsor Wren, “The sand in the hour glass is quickly slipping away and the states have little time to comply the 20 thousand plus page of health care regulations.”
Like many others in the state and around the country Wren says he has worked to see Obamacare repealed. He says that he is also completely supportive of the litigation that would overturn the Affordable Care Act but Wren says he also believes the state must be proactive.
“The sheer weight of the problem for Alabama and all states is that this is still the law of the land,” said Wren. “We are two years in since the signing, and state must develop a plan for the insurance portion of the act or the federal government will mandate what type of exchange the state will have.
As originally conceived the Obama Administration had sought a single national exchange, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed, it split exchanges by state, in line with the bill that passed the U.S. Senate. States may choose to join together to run multi-state exchanges, or they may opt out of running their own exchange, in which case the federal government will step in to create an exchange for their citizens.
Wren adamantly stated, “I will turn over every rock in the Legislature to prevent that from happening. I will not stand by and let that happen even if only as a defensive measure we need to have a bill in place.”
In March, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments to overturn The Affordable Care Act. The court has set aside an unprecedented three days to hear the case. A decision is expected to be announced some time in April.
Many politicos are taking a wait and see attitude but Wren does not see this as a logical approach. “The wait and see approach is a calamity waiting to happen,” said Wren.
The bill which Wren is sponsoring will have a a repealer provision and a sunset provision.
“As a right-wing conservative i am concerned that we must act preemptively to keep the Federal Government from dictating Alabama’s future.”