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Bentley Says Health Care Decision To Wait Until Nov. Election

By: Kim Chandler -- Montgomery Bureau
By: Kim Chandler -- Montgomery Bureau

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Republican Gov. Robert Bentley said he will wait until after the November presidential election to decide whether to set up a state health care exchange as required by the Affordable Care Act.

"We are going to wait until we see what the landscape is after the election to make a final decision," Bentley said this morning.

"If Governor Romney wins and we take over the Senate, that changes the whole landscape," Bentley said,

The Affordable Care Act requires each state to have an exchange -- essentially a virtual marketplace where people can shop for health care coverage -- by 2014. Republicans have promised to try to repeal the law.

There are just 10 days between the election and a deadline for states to submit exchange plans to the federal government.

The election is Nov. 6. States have a Nov. 16 deadline to submit blueprints to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describing how their exchanges will operate. If states fail to make reasonable progress, the federal government will step in and set up that state's exchange.

Bentley said he believes the state can be ready if it has to be.

He said his is administration is "moving forward with a framework" but won't make the decision on whether to set it up until after the election.

State Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, who unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation setting up a state exchange, said it was risky for the state to wait based on political calculations of what might happen in November.

"If that doesn't occur and the Senate doesn't flip and we have missed the deadline to file for a state exchange, we will be into a default mode for a federal exchange," Wren said.

Wren said he thought the state should move forward with "something" with the caveat that the exchange framework would be dissolved if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

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