For the administration, it’s a dangerous endeavor: the text of President Barack Obama’s health law didn’t envision widespread abdication by the states. There’s not much of a playbook for federal health officials to follow. And if it goes horribly awry, not only will the Obama administration be blamed, the entire health care law could be in trouble.
But with Republican-led states staying at arm’s length, there’s also a huge opportunity for federal ownership of the law. Many liberal Democrats originally wanted the feds to run a single, national exchange. They thought it would be simpler, cheaper and more consistent. They may turn out to be right.