BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota lawmakers and Gov. Jack Dalrymple should continue their opposition to establishing a state-run, online marketplace for insurance that's required by the new federal health care law, representatives of a group of conservative organizations said Monday.
The so-called health insurance exchanges are meant to allow people to comparison shop for health insurance, much as Travelocity does for airfares. The federal law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, allows states to organize their own exchanges but calls on the federal government to set one up if they do not.
Brett Narloch, director of the North Dakota Policy Council, a libertarian organization opposed to the federal health care law, said Monday during a state Capitol news conference Monday that a state-run health insurance exchange would be pointless, because the federal government would have the final say over how it is run.
"The federal government has the ultimate say on what is essential coverage," Narloch said. "If we have no control, it doesn't make any sense to bear the cost. This is a federal program, it should be paid for by the federal government and run by the federal government."
Other conservative organizations, including North Dakota Right to Life, the North Dakota Family Alliance and the state Tea Party Caucus, also oppose a state-run exchange, Narloch said.
Fewer than 20 states have set up exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks the issue.
Dalrymple has opposed having the state take responsibility for its health insurance exchange, and a spokeswoman said Monday his view has not changed.
Last November, the North Dakota House overwhelmingly rejected legislation to authorize a state-administered system. Rep. Al Carlson, of Fargo, the House Republican majority leader, said Monday he did not believe the Supreme Court decision had made members of his party more sympathetic to the idea.
"We should not be forced into doing this," Carlson said. "We should not have a (state-run exchange). We should not have a federal one."
A North Dakota legislative committee, headed by state Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, has been monitoring the federal health care law and will meet Wednesday in Bismarck for the first time since the Supreme Court's June 28 ruling.
Keiser has supported establishing a state-run exchange, saying he believes it would be more efficient and flexible than a federal one. Keiser did not respond Monday to telephone calls for comment.