Hurdles Persist as State Moves Forward With Health Benefit Exchange
Stakeholders are facing several hurdles as the state moves forward with plans to implement the California Health Benefit Exchange, the Sacramento Bee reports.
About the Exchange
Beginning in 2014, the exchange is expected to help more than two million Californians obtain health coverage as mandated under the federal health care reform law.
The exchange aims to expand access to care for low- and middle-income residents using federal subsidies and through negotiations with private health insurers.
Last week, federal officials awarded California a $39 million initial planning grant for the exchange.
Several hurdles loom over the creation of the insurance exchange. For example, states are under pressure to rein in expenses as health care costs outpace inflation.
Other hurdles include:
- Attracting consumers from a broad spectrum of health, instead of just high-risk patients; and
- Coordinating eligibility and enrollment services with Healthy Families -- the state's Children's Health Insurance Program -- and Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program.
Jeanne Cain, executive vice president for policy at the California Chamber of Commerce, said it is too early to know how employers will be affected by the exchange. She said one concern is whether costs for high-risk patients could be passed on to private insurance plans.
In addition, some health care advocates have said that Democratic lawmakers could endorse legislation to expand or adjust the Health Benefit Exchange board.
In the next few months, officials will hire a contractor to start building an information technology system for the exchange.
The project has an initial build cost estimate of $85 million (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 8/16).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.