Interim Legislative committee talks 'Obamacare'

Aug 4, 2017

Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck), chairman of the Legislature's interim Health Care Reform Review Committee.
Credit ND Legislature

An interim Legislative committee has begun its work on creating a new state plan to meet the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”

But there’s uncertainty. Congress tried but failed to “repeal and replace” the ACA, and so far hasn’t made any changes to the original act.

"Uncertainty creates problems for the health insurance market," said Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck), the chairman of the interim Health Care Reform Review Committee. "It creates uncertainty for consumers. And it certainly is creating a problem for the states."

Keiser said the federal government wants the states to create their own plans.

"But it's hard to develop a plan without knowing what the rules are," Keiser said.

Keiser said he hopes sometime through the two year study period, some degree of certainty will eventually be provided to the states.

"Whatever it is, we will build our model around it," Keiser said.

Former Utah governor Mike Leavitt -- who now has a health-care consultancy -- spoke to the committee about "managed care" options under Medicaid expansion. The term “managed care” means a system designed to manage cost, utilization and quality of health care.

His advice? "Do it the North Dakota way," Leavitt said in an interview.

Leavitt said the current thinking in Washington, DC is to give states flexibility to choose their own paths.

"My advice is -- don't try to do everything at the same time," Leavitt said. "Pick a point in time -- maybe 10 years -- ask yourself, 'What do we want the system to look like 10 years from now?' Them, every two years, move toward it."

Leavitt said it is an opportunity to make the health care system better for everyone.