By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has left the large majority of the law in place. One of the centerpieces of the legislation is the Healthcare Exchange portion. Perhaps no one in Alabama is more knowledgable on the subject of the law surrounding these exchanges than Representative Greg Wren (R-Montgomery).
Now that the court has made the creation of these exchanges a necessity Wren fulminate against what he says has been Governor Robert Bentley’s unwillingness to work with state lawmakers to form a governing body for the exchange.
“I have tried for over two years to work with the governor to create a healthcare exchange commission by statute, but he has resisted on every turn,” Wren said.
Wren is the National Chairman of the Healthcare Reform Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I have also worked very hard to protect the citizen from the coercive interference of the Federal government in the affairs of our state,” says Wren.
Wren has over two legislative session tried to implement safeguards against a federal takeover of what will now become Alabama’s healthcare insurance exchange.
“The governor has worked against those efforts, wanting to establish the exchange by executive order,” said Wren. Only of late has the governor seemed to understand or at least admit publicly that at some point he will need the legislature to enact an Alabama exchange.
Wren says, “This needs to be done by a legislative act with everyone at the table to make it work.” Wren says that “it is time to wipe the slate clean between the Governor’s office and the Legislature and ‘Do what is right for the people of Alabama.’”
The governor has been very busy creating an health insurance exchange for Alabama within the State Department of Insurance, while his spokespersons have spun a different story for public consumption.
Now that the SCOTUS has upheld all but the Medicaid portion of the ACA, Wren says he is willing to sit with the Administration to set plans and priorities—that loom in the not to distant future for implementations that must adhere to federal timelines for the exchange.
“This could be handle in the special in September if the constitutional amendment fails,” said Wren or it can be dealt with in February at the start of the new regular session “but that will be cutting it close.”
Wren says he hopes the governor’s office will see the wisdom of including legislators now, rather than later.