U.S. Gives States More Time To Make Obama Health Law Decision

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Under the new law, all Americans are required to have health insurance or pay a fine. All the exchanges are supposed to be open for business on January 1, 2014.

The federal government late Thursday gave states another month to decide if they will operate insurance exchanges under the new U.S. healthcare law, after some Republican governors stalled in the hope President Barack Obama would lose last week’s election, Reuters reports.

The delay was the second time in a week that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius showed flexibility on deadlines as a way to entice states to cooperate in implementing Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The deadline was supposed to be Friday for each state to declare whether it would operate an exchange, an important building block of Obama’s healthcare law. Exchanges are to provide a marketplace for Americans to find private insurance at government-subsidized rates beginning in 2014.

The extension to December 14 gives more than a dozen states, most of them governed by Republicans, more time to decide whether they will cooperate with the Obama administration in implementing the law.

Among the states that have not yet announced a decision are several election battlegrounds won by Obama, including Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

Most Republicans fiercely opposed the healthcare law, calling it a government bureaucracy and a takeover of health care. Some did nothing to prepare for the law in hopes that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would win the election and repeal the law.

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