We have had the endless debate. We have had the narrow Supreme Court decision and, now, we have had the election.
Looks like ObamaCare is here to stay.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage is now faced with the decision he hoped to never make — whether to build a health care exchange or leave it up to the federal government.
Planning for the exhange was well under way when LePage replaced Democrat John Baldacci in the Blaine House. But LePage, no fan of the federal health care law, stopped that work, pointing out that the fate of the entire law was uncertain.
Well, it's uncertain no longer.
On the surface, the exchanges are an idea that a previous generation of Republicans might have liked. It is based on a robust private insurance market, rather than a single-payer federal solution, and encourages Americans to show responsibility and buy their own insurance.
But in their all-or-nothing opposition to ObamaCare, and by failing to offer a credible alternative to the nation's health care problems, Republicans have shunned a basically solid idea.
Advocates say the exchanges will allow consumers to directly compare plans more easily and select one that best fits their circumstances, like the successful Health Connector in Massachusetts, yes the one built by the original, less "strictly conservative," Mitt Romney.
That site walks consumers through the health insurance buying process and is a model of clarity and convenience.
Absent a health exchange, consumers are left tracking down confusing and contradictory information from individual insurers.
So, the exchanges are key to providing a robust, competitive, private marketplace for people to buy health insurance.
The federal government even offered planning money, some of which Maine received initially, to customize their own exchanges. And many states have been busy doing just that.
But, a handful of states either quit planning or never started, and are now faced with a Nov. 16 deadline to let the feds know their intentions and have exchanges ready by January 2014.
In previous statements, LePage has indicated a willingness to let Washington do the heavy lifting and construct the exchange.
He should stick by his guns for several reasons:
First, it's late in the game and we've lost a lot of time. Maine, a small state, would end up trying to hire expensive consultants to construct a hurry-up plan.
Secondly, we suspect a governor and administration who disliked the idea from the start would do a half-hearted job and end up with a poorly devised plan.
Finally, our state government has shown a remarkable ineptitude for selecting and running complex computer systems.
This inability predates the LePage administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services has its hands full either replacing, updating or generally figuring out its current computer systems.
The ironic result here is that so many conservative governors usually favor state over federal control.
But, through their refusal to plan, they will end up with exchanges run out of Washington rather than their state capitals.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.