By failing to submit their Obamacare plans before the deadline, several Republican-dominated states handed control of their health insurance programs to the federal government by default.
Friday was the deadline for states to submit plans to operate their own insurance exchanges for residents not receiving coverage through their employers or a private company. The federal government will run all or part of the programs for as many as 32 states. It will operate them entirely for at least 24 states.
The Obama administration and Congress have until October 2013 to set up a scheme for individual enrollments, with coverage set to begin in January 2014.
As of deadline day, states fall into three categories. There are those, such as California, New York and the District of Columbia, that have agreed to run their state exchanges, and will receive federal funding. Then there are those, such as West Virginia and Illinois, that are in a halfway house of partnership with the federal government, whether by accident or design, and will run parts of their exchange.
And then there are those states that have rejected setting up exchanges – such as Texas and South Dakota – and so will instead submit to federal control, although they have a later deadline of 15 February 2015 if they want to adopt the partnership with the government option.
In truth there is a fourth category: Florida, always the outlier. The Sunshine State has simply dragged its feet – first hoping the legal challenge it spearheaded and then the 2012 presidential election would kill off the Affordable Care Act. Since the election it has had no time to refine a blueprint.