Context: State governments have been powerful sites of Republican resistance to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Democratic Party's signature 2010 law. By influencing how citizens experience the ACA, state-level implementation can affect the national-level political implications of the law.
Methods: I examine three largely unstudied areas of marketplace implementation: navigator laws, transitional plan termination, and rating area configurations. For each policy area, I use linear probability models to investigate the determinants of state lawmakers bolstering or eroding marketplaces.
Findings: In each case, Democrat-controlled states were more likely to bolster marketplaces than Republican-controlled states were, with decisions more polarized in those policy areas—navigator laws and transitional plan termination—and with greater potential for national-level feedback. For navigator laws, where Republican state lawmakers were most cross-pressured by national party interests and local interests, marketplace eroding policy was highly associated with strength of conservative networks.
Conclusion: Crafters of federal legislation cannot expect state lawmakers to universally implement federal law to maximize the direct benefits to their constituents. Rather, we should expect state lawmakers to, in many instances, implement federal law in ways that benefit their parties.