Report highlights states’ progress on implementing health insurance exchanges

Jan 18, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on January 18,2012:

Report highlights states’ progress on implementing health insurance changes

By Christine Jordan Sexton

A report released by the federal government on Wednesday shows that 28 states have received more than $600 million in grants to establish health exchanges. 

Health exchanges are a central part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and will serve to connect people without employer-sponsored insurance to find a health plan and discover whether they are eligible for any premium assistance. The law requires each state to have a plan for an exchange in place by January 2013. Exchanges must be operational by January 2014. In order for a state to have an exchange operational it must pass a law enabling the exchange.

States that  don’t have an exchange operational by January 2014 would operate under a federal exchange. 

According to the report, the Department of Health and Human Services has completed work on information technology, operational business processes and business requirements for the federal exchanges.

Administration officials said it was too early to predict how many states would have to operate under a federal exchange. They stressed they would work with states to ensure that they don’t have to operate under a federal exchange.

The White House report highlights the experience of 10 states, several with Republican governors, in their efforts to establish exchanges. The states were picked because of the diverse approaches they have taken to establish an exchange, federal officials said in an off-the-record background briefing with reporters.

Florida applied for, and received, a $1 million planning grant in 2010 when then-Gov. Charlie Crist was in office. After the 2010 election when Rick Scott and a conservative Legislature was elected, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty advised the federal government the state wouldn’t use its grant.

Florida is leading the efforts to overturn the federal health care reform act, having filed the lawsuit that is being heard by The U.S. Supreme Court, which has devoted six hours of oral arguments on the case.

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