Uneven State Implementation Damaging to Forward Progress of Health Care Reform

As the political debate surrounding the 2012 presidential elections begins to heat up, various measurements are being applied to President Obama’s health care reform package. An analysis by the Associated Press now shows that three out of four Americans who have no health insurance live in states that do not know how they will implement the required provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Currently, only 13 states have plans in place to fully enact health care reform, with 17 making “headway” and 20 lagging seriously behind. Of those, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio have the most work to do. The non-partisan Urban Institute estimates that 7 million people in those states need health insurance. When that happens, total charity care will be reduced by $10.7 billion.

Some states with Republican governments are waiting for the Supreme Court ruling this spring on the constitutionality of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requiring all citizens to carry health insurance by 2014. The court is set to hear arguments in March. The decision will directly affect whether or not states should proceed with the implementation of health insurance exchanges.

The Obama administration insists that the different rates at which the states are moving forward does not create disparities in America’s uninsured population. Health care reform, however, is set to be one of the hottest points of debate in the coming presidential election and on this, and other aspects of its implementation, detractors say the president’s supporters are on the defensive.