Obama health official fires back at GOP govs


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the exchanges in an op-ed last week, writing that states are leading the exchange implementation efforts. Sebelius pointed out that states can offer a wide variety of plans in the exchanges and have the flexibility to decide mandatory benefit packages.

“Are there nuances in all these issues that need to be worked through? Of course,” Ario said Tuesday. “But there’s definitely a great deal of flexibility on all the grounds that were cited in [Sebelius’s] letter.”

Even as more than half the states are challenging the reform law in court, 49 states and the District of Columbia accepted a $1 million grant to plan the exchanges. HHS offered up a new round of grants in January to help states implement the exchanges, and “about a dozen” states are pushing hard, Ario said.

However, at least one state has gifted the money back to the feds. Florida returned the planning grant in the aftermath of a federal judge’s ruling last month striking down the entire reform law.