House looking at establishing a health insurance exchange

Jan 23, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on January 23, 2012:

House looking at establishing a health insurance exchange

By Christine Jordan Sexton

A House health care spending panel will tackle on Tuesday a bill that would limit emergency room services to nonpregnant adults to 12 visits per year and also would limit chiropractic and pediatric services to Medicaid patients under the age of 21 only.

The proposed committee bill, HCAS 2, was filed late Friday and will be heard by the House Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday. Tucked into the Medicaid, bill, though also is a proposal that could lay the development for a state or federal health insurance exchange.

An exchange is a virtual marketplace where residents can examine their health insurance options. Exchanges are an integral part of the federal health care reform, and states must have one implemented and operational by January 2014 or their residents will have to tap into a federal health insurance exchange. 

The Agency for Health Care Administration is directed to develop the Internet site under the proposed bill, though it will be governed by an executive steering committee, comprised of three AHCA staff members and three Department of Children and Families staff members. The site would prove information explaining benefits, premiums and cost sharing available through the various programs as well as any state or federal health insurance exchange.

The bill requires that the system be completed by Oct. 1, 2013.

The exchange would be set up “to the extent that funds are appropriated.” It also would be subject to Legislative Budget Commission review. At press time there was no funding established in the proposed committee bill.

Florida applied for and received $1 million planning grant for a health insurance exchange during the Charlie Crist administration. After the November 2010 elections when Rick Scott became governor, the state notified the federal government it would not use the planning grant. Florida is leading a challenge to the federal health care reform act.

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