Cato Health Expert Tells Arkansas To Abandon Insurance Exchange Plans

Mar 19, 2013

Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute told lawmakers Tuesday that abandoning plans to partner with the federal government on a health insurance exchange would both benefit the state and reduce the power of the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute says Arkansas lawmakers should avoid as much state responsibility involved with the federal Affordable Care Act as possible.

The health policy expert from the Cato Institute, a public policy think tank dedicated to promoting free market principles, spoke with lawmakers Tuesday in the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee to discuss the state’s options regarding what to do with its health insurance exchange.

Cannon says the state should leave the exchange up to the federal government.

"Rather than create a health insurance exchange or even try to help the Obama administration implement an exchange through the partnership model, I think that the state's much better off trying to protect it's employers and those 130,000 Arkansas residents from these illegal taxes," Cannon said.

Cannon also says an Oklahoma lawsuit calling part of the Affordable Care Act an illegal tax could force lawmakers to take another look at the entire law.

Annabelle Imber Tuck, chair of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission provided another view to reporters following the meeting. She’s on an advisory committee for the health insurance exchange which the state is already working on and says the state will be more responsive than the federal government when dealing with individual consumer’s issues.

"Our insurance department will be there for the complaints, have you ever tried to call Washington to complain about something? You can complain here under this partnership and under a state exchange and get some action," Imber Tuck said.

In response to a question from Democratic Senator Joyce Elliott of Little Rock, Cannon said he was there to both advise legislators on the state’s health insurance exchange and to push stopping the Affordable Care Act altogether.