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Exchange Politics: Opposing Obamacare in Battleground States
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Exchange Politics: Opposing Obamacare in Battleground States (Paperback)

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a threat that any state refusing to set up a health insurance exchange would lose control to the federal government. Republicans had supported the concept before it became part of Obamacare, and so virtually every state was expected to cooperate and implement this core part of the law through which millions would receive financial assistance to buy health insurance. However, 34 states refused to participate, using their

flexibility as an opportunity to try to bring down the entire law. This is a stunning miscalculation by the Obama administration.

This book tells the story of what happened in the final two states to choose state control (Idaho and New Mexico) and the two that came the closest but did not (Michigan and Mississippi). Contrary to how it is typically described in the media, the most intense split was not between Republicans and Democrats, but within the Republican Party. Governors were the most important people in the fight over exchanges, but did not always get their way. The Tea Party was amazingly successful at defeating

the most powerful interest groups. State-level and national conservative think tanks were important allies to the Tea Party. The relative power of these groups was shaped by differences in institutional design and procedures, such as whether a state has term limits and the length of legislative

sessions. Opposition was more easily overcome in states whose conditions facilitated the development of legislative "pockets of expertise."

This is a dramatic example of opponents using federalism to block national reform and serves as a warning of the challenge of inducing state cooperation in other policy domains such as the environment and education.

David K. Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at Boston University's School of Public Health. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Public Health Post. His research examines the politics of health reform and has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, and The American Journal of Public Health among other places. He has been cited in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and by other media outlets. He is a past winner of Academy Health's Outstanding Dissertation Award.

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