RALEIGH—All eyes have been on Governor Bev Perdue this week, as a Friday deadline approached for North Carolina to declare its intent on how to handle health care exchanges under the federal Affordable Care Act.
In a press conference Thursday, Perdue said her first choice is clear: a state run exchange. But, she said, did not believe she could pick that option.
“The legislature did not provide us the ability to move forward with that type of exchange in time to have a timely completion by 2014. But they did indicate in their budget bill their preference as well for a state exchange,” said Perdue.
Instead she picked a federal state partnership, which her administration said will still give the state options.
“It preserves complete flexibility for the Governor- elect and the for the legislature,” said acting Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia.
However legislative leaders say they do not support the action by Gov. Perdue. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement:
Let’s set the record straight. It is not necessary or appropriate for Governor Perdue to prematurely declare her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange...The voters elected a new legislature and governor last week and policy decisions of this magnitude should be left to them.
But Perdue said this did leave the door open.
“So in six or eight months or thirty days if they decide they want a state option, they can work to make that happen sooner rather than later,” said Perdue.
For his part, in a statement the governor elect said he is still deciding which direction he wants to see the state head in.
"Governor Perdue's decision leaves flexibility for North Carolina in the future when it comes to the delivery of health care. I will be discussing this with more governors today, and will continue those discussions in the coming weeks to ensure the best results for North Carolina,” said Governor elect Pat McCrory.
Administration officials say the exchange under the partnership should not cost the state anything because of the federal grant money attached to it.