More Guidance Needed on Creating Insurance Exchanges, States Say
State officials say their efforts to meet a Nov. 16 deadline for submitting plans to establish health insurance exchanges -- as mandated by the Affordable Care Act -- are being impeded by limited guidance from the federal government, USA Today reports.
Some officials also are expressing concern that they might have to make changes to their exchanges after more regulations are released, potentially after the presidential election.
Just two states -- Massachusetts and Utah -- had created exchanges before the enactment of ACA, so nearly all states are establishing their exchanges without any prior structure, USA Today notes. As a result, state officials are trying to obtain answers about specific coverage benefits and other general issues.
Ceci Connolly, managing director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute, said, "In my conversations with state officials, I'm hearing two concerns," adding, "They're concerned about the very aggressive timetable â¦ and the lack of guidance. There's not a lot of detail in essential health benefits."
Kevin Counihan -- CEO of Connecticut's Insurance Exchange -- said CMS is walking a "very fine line" between providing sufficient guidance and trying not to impose too much on states. "We can either say, 'I don't know enough to move,' or, 'We're going to do the best we can with what we have.'"
Erin Britt, a spokesperson for HHS, said, "Over the past two years, [HHS] has been in constant contact with the states, answering questions and providing guidance through bulletins, phone calls, webinars, in-person meetings and rulemaking."
Federal officials have said that states have the flexibility to decide what benefits should be offered for their residents (Kennedy, USA Today, 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.