My colleague Micah Weinberg posted on our health reform implementation event and we'll have more to say but we wanted to quickly point to Anne Gauthier's extremely important (and reassuring) comment about the on-the-ground reality in the states -- including the firebreathing-dragon states where they are vowing to repeal health reform or kill it in the courts. Those "repeal" comments have made us worry about what's happening in the states, whether they are doing what they need to do to make health reform -- which is after all the law of the land -- work for their citizens.
Gauthier, senior fellow at the National Academy for State Health Policy, has been in touch with officials in many states, and she was encouraging. She met with Virginia's state health secretary, for instance, after the state filed suit to block reform. "We talked about it. The law is still the law and Virginia is going to be implementing the federal health reform law while aggressively pursuing the lawsuit," is the message she was given. And she's hearing variants of that from across the country.
"There is an awful lot that is going to be underway," she told us. Even the states who have joined the constitutional challenges are "all moving quite actively" to implement reform. So when we read, as we did this morning, that Georgia's health insurance commissioner (who also happens to be running for governor) is vowing not to set up a high-risk pool, we did not go rushing off to our primary care provider to have our blood pressure checked. We took a deep breath and reminded ourselves that the authors of the new health law were prepared for this. If a state fails to set up a pool, eligible patients, even in Georgia, will have a national high risk option as a fallback.