This week in Washington—states work towards the health benefit exchange Oct 1 enrollment deadline. You are tuning in to the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems health policy update for the week of May 27, 2013.
At a conference this week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that “[o]n Oct. 1, in every state in the country, new health markets will open for enrollment.” This remark was in answer to concerns that some states may not make the Oct. 1 deadline for the health benefit exchanges. States have been faced with a number of decisions regarding Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, including whether or not to create state-based exchanges. Provisions in the ACA require the establishment of health insurance exchanges that enable individuals and small businesses access to affordable health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014, with enrollment beginning Oct. 1, 2013.
Currently, 17 states will establish their own state-based exchanges, eight states will have state-federal partnership exchanges, and 24 states will have federally-facilitated exchanges. Florida and Mississippi are still undecided at this time. Mississippi had proposed a state-based exchange, but was denied by HHS. Recently, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia have entered into an agreement to manage the health plans that will be offered in the federally-facilitated exchanges in their respective states (also referred to as a “shadow partnership”). This arrangement does not officially label them as partners with the federal government.
Last week, New Mexico announced that, in order to meet deadlines, the state will run the small business exchange and leave the individual exchange for HHS to operate. New Mexico leaders noted that HHS will handle individual enrollment through Oct. 1, 2014, but the state will still regulate health plans and handle consumer relations during that time period. This is similar to Utah, where leaders have indicated they want HHS to handle the individual exchange while the state runs the small business exchange. Guidance will be issued shortly for Utah to set up their exchange in this way.
Thanks for listening to another edition of This Week in Washington. I’m Zina Gontscharow; join us next week for another update.