Health exchange could cost up to $34 million in Ohio; Kentucky still biding its time — until after the election?

As 27 states, including Kentucky, bide their time in setting up a health care exchange — a key component of the federal health-reform law — Ohio officials have said setting one up in their state will cost $19 million to $34 million.

The undertaking could cost $8 million a year just for staff salaries, with 170 employees needed to run the exchange, reports Cliff Peale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Marketing could cost $5 million a year, said a health-care consultant at Milliman Inc., an actuarial and consulting firm.
“Ideally, we want to see Obamacare repealed,” said Susan Verble, deputy chief of staff for Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also directs the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Whether it’s a state or federal-run exchange, it’s going to be costly for taxpayers.”
Starting in January 2014, “the law will require all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty and require companies with more than 50 workers to offer benefits or pay a penalty,” Peale reports. Ohio and Kentucky have each received $1 million from the federal government to research how to start an exchange.
Kentucky has not decided whether it will operate an exchange. Officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said last month Kentucky is still awaiting guidance from the federal government, but didn’t respond directly when asked if the impending election for governor was also a factor. (Read more)

Tonight, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia narrowly won a special election for the remainder of an unexpired term, after losing a big lead. The final television commercial from the Republican Governors Association was an attack that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear may be trying to avoid: A link between a Democratic governor and the unpopular Democratic president’s health-care law, passed with only Democratic votes. –Al Cross, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

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