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Editorial: Compliance with ACA reforms right move for Rhode Island

As controversy unfolds surrounding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Rhode Island has taken its own stand on implementing the law’s reforms: The state will not adopt a fix President Obama announced last week, which would allow consumers to keep insurance plans for a year that do not comply with the law. Rhode Island health care officials announced last Thursday that the state will opt out of the temporary extension. We support this move: The state’s decision to uphold the ACA’s compliance standards is the best way to minimize confusion while the state eases into the changes mandated by the federal health care reforms.

Though Obama’s option appears politically expedient —  especially as complications with the online federal exchange and other factors sink his approval ratings — we believe this move threatens the sound policy of the ACA. By contrast, Rhode Island’s decision will ensure the simplest, most comfortable transition to the inevitable policies of the ACA.

Rhode Island is not the only state to foresee this issue: So far, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington have also decided to be non-compliant, demonstrating the broad appeal and acceptability of this option.

The state has already begun designing plans to meet with the standards of the ACA, and allowing individuals to maintain their discontinued health care policies will only add confusion to the transition.

Moreover, as the Providence Journal recently reported, the changes in health insurance that Rhode Island has experienced in the past year have already proved less dramatic than the experiences of other states. The state’s transition into the law has been gradual and relatively effective: Maintaining compliance with ACA standards allows the state to maintain this gradual transition.

And indeed, many experts have agreed that complying with the future changes, rather than reverting back to old policies, is the most effective and pain-free way to transition. As noted in an article in Tuesday’s Herald, simply delaying the law’s rollout does not necessarily solve problems, and it forces insurers to backtrack on plans they have already made.

The state’s decision to reject Obama’s proposed fix in favor of maintaining compliance to ACA standards is the best way to ensure the most stable, manageable long-term goals.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Rachel Occhiogrosso, and its members, Daniel Jeon, Hannah Loewentheil and Thomas Nath. Send comments to



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