HHS Meets With State Officials on Insurance Exchange Planning
On Thursday, HHS launched a two-day meeting with 150 officials from 44 states to discuss the creation of health insurance exchanges under the federal health reform law, The Hillâs "Healthwatch" reports (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/16).
Under the overhaul, states by January 2013 must prove to HHS that they will have a functioning exchange up and running by the following year, or the federal government will step in and create the insurance market (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 12/16). Thus far, only Alaska and Minnesota have not applied for and received federal grants to help them plan and implement their exchanges ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/16).
After the meeting, an attendee said that many states indicated they will delay until 2012 passing laws to create the exchanges, even though HHS has urged states to start approving legislation in 2011.
According to the attendee, "The bottom line is that there are a lot of unanswered questions states have about creating exchanges." For example, some states are unsure what to do if their own laws mandate benefits exceeding those required by the reform law. Such states have noted they cannot rely on federal guidance until HHS releases rules regarding the exchanges next year.
However, the attendee said HHS officials have listened to states' concerns and incorporated the feedback into federal plans. According to the attendee, although federal officials have not yet made key policy decisions on the exchanges, the officials are "forthcoming that they can't be forthcoming" (CQ HealthBeat, 12/16).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.