HHS ‘Early Innovators’ Program To Encourage Health Plan Exchanges
On Friday, HHS is expected to announce details of "Early Innovators," a new initiative in which five states will be selected to serve as models for the design and implementation of the state-based health insurances exchanges under the federal health reform law, Politico reports (Haberkorn, Politico, 10/29).
Under the overhaul, states by January 2014 must create insurance exchanges that provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.
The exchanges are intended to foster a competitive market and hold insurers to strict new standards while attracting consumers.
States can choose to administer their own exchanges, for which they must have some infrastructure in place by January 2013, or ask the government to run the exchanges for them (California Healthline, 10/25).
To participate in the Early Innovators program, interested states will have to apply to be selected. To qualify, states must already have begun planning their exchanges, Politico reports.
Several states -- such as California, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- already have established task forces to work on their exchanges and other related programs. The selected states will receive federal grants to fund their work.
Joel Ario -- director of health insurance exchanges at the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight -- said that the amount of money states would receive has not been decided and that the agency did not want to set a limit.
States Concerned About 'Enormous Undertaking' of Implementing Exchanges
According to Politico, some states consider the task of creating the exchanges "an enormous undertaking," citing concerns that they have just three years to design the system, establish the necessary information technology infrastructure and implement it.
Ario said, "As we've been out with the states talking about 2014 and the possibility of as many states as possible doing their own exchange, they're most concerned about the IT piece, (saying) it's going to be expensive and it's going to take some time" (Politico, 10/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.