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Published July 23, 2012, 11:30 PM

North Dakota conservatives still oppose state health exchange

BISMARCK – A coalition of conservatives says it will continue to oppose federal health care reform and does not think North Dakota should implement provisions of the law.

BISMARCK – A coalition of conservatives says it will continue to oppose federal health care reform and does not think North Dakota should implement provisions of the law.

The North Dakota Policy Council and Liberty ND PAC said Monday they hope the Legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple continue to oppose establishing a state-run health insurance exchange.

Under the federal law, states must establish their own exchange or the federal government will do it for them. The exchange would allow individuals and small employers to compare and buy health plan coverage.

Dalrymple spokeswoman Jody Link said Monday that the governor still opposes a state-run exchange.

Coalition spokesman Dustin Gawrylow said implementing a state health exchange would give legitimacy to the overall law and undermine efforts to repeal it.

The coalition’s news conference came two days before a legislative committee is scheduled to meet to discuss federal health care reform now that the law was deemed constitutional.

In November, the state House voted 64-30 against North Dakota creating the state’s exchange.

Republicans didn’t want to appear to be supporting federal health care reform and didn’t want to move forward on a law that had the potential to be deemed unconstitutional or be overturned by Congress.

Supporters of a state exchange say it would be better for North Dakota to create a program that works best for the state rather than accept a federally designed program.

Gawrylow said states would have “little to no control” over a state-run exchange since the federal government can veto and change rules “whenever it feels fit to do so.” The coalition also opposes a state expansion of the Medicaid program.

The legislative Health Care Reform Review Committee meets Wednesday at the Capitol to discuss the federal law further.

Legislators will hear from Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm, the Department of Human Services and medical and insurance representatives.

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