Governors on the fence or opposed to implementing a crucial element of President Barack Obama's health care reform law now have more time to make a decision following a Thursday announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Republican Governors Association had demanded an extension of Friday's deadline for states to declare whether they will set up health insurance exchanges -- online marketplaces where the uninsured can shop for coverage and learn about eligibility for financial assistance or Medicaid benefits starting in 2014. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius penned a letter pushing back the deadline to Dec. 14.
"We are confident governors will have enough time to decide whether they want to establish an exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or have a federally facilitated exchange in their state. We look forward to working with governors as we continue to implement the law," Sebelius wrote in a letter addressed to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who contacted her Wednesday on behalf of GOP governors.
In the hours before Sebelius moved back the date, more Republican-led states had announced or restated that they would opt out of the key component of Obama's health care reform law.
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