Koch-backed group lauds governors for rejecting health marts

A conservative advocacy group praised governors Friday for refusing to implement President Obama's healthcare exchanges.

The statement from Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which is aligned with the Tea Party and largely funded by the conservative Koch brothers, marked the deadline for states to notify the federal Health department of their decisions.

By refusing to create their own healthcare marketplaces, states effectively cede the task to the federal government.

On Friday, AFP praised that choice for reflecting a "principled stance" against healthcare reform.

"Governors sent a strong message to Washington that their states will not implement these flawed health insurance exchanges," said Nicole Kaeding, AFP state policy manager.

"Statement after statement acknowledged that exchanges will raise prices on consumers and increase taxes on hardworking families. It is encouraging to see governors taking this step to protect their residents and healthcare freedom in their states."

The insurance exchanges are the centerpiece of Obama's healthcare law, and are intended to make buying coverage comparable to booking a flight or finding a compatible partner on Match.com.

By The Hill's count, 22 states had chosen to default to a federal exchange by Friday morning.

Nearly all are governed by Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, and argue that running exchanges would drain state budgets after massive federal start-up grants are exhausted.

"Healthcare reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said Wednesday, announcing his state would not run its own exchange.

"It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written."

Consulting firm Avalere Health estimated Thursday that two-thirds of people likely to purchase coverage on the marketplaces will buy through a federally administered or "partnership" exchange.