Alabama Governor Won’t Implement Part of Health Law

October 3, 2012

Gov. Robert Bentley announced this week that he won’t implement part of the federal Affordable Health Care Act in Alabama.

Bentley’s aides said the Alabama governor sent a letter to Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius explaining that he’s an opponent of the act. Bentley said he will not make a decision on establishing minimum benefits for those buying individual and small group policies in Alabama. He called it irresponsible to decide what Alabama’s benchmark will be for essential health benefits without clear guidance from the federal government.

“As you are aware, I am a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act,” Bentley said in the Oct. 1 letter to Sebelius. “As both a physician and a governor, I have determined that it is irresponsible and short-sighted to make a decision on essential health benefits by confining the decision to a select few plans and without having been offered clear guidance from the federal government.”

Bentley said the law lacks options for innovative approaches. He advocated health savings accounts in place of the federal law.

In his statement Bentley said that in order to control costs, “consumers themselves must be a part of any equation.” He also told Sebelius that there wasn’t enough valid information now to make an informed choice on such an important decision. That, he said, leaves governors and other state leaders in the position of having to make a critical decision based on little more than “vague guidance and guesswork.”

“The Affordable Care Act includes many provisions, all supposedly geared toward making health insurance affordable, yet it does not include any significant mention of health savings accounts. I contend that the law does not make health insurance affordable and negatively affects consumer choice,” he wrote.

Bentley’s opposition was in line with that of some other Republican governors who have refused to go along with or have openly criticized portions of the wide-ranging federal health care reform.