HHS Extends Deadline for State Insurance Exchange Blueprints

TOPIC ALERT:

Last week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to governors announcing that states will have additional time to submit plans for health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/9).

Background

Under the ACA, states by January 2014 must create online health insurance exchanges to provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.

States can choose to administer their own exchange or have the federal government run it for them. A third option -- the "partnership model," in which the government would assist states in establishing the exchanges without completely taking over operations -- also is available.

Most insurance exchanges will rely on a solid IT foundation to connect with advanced eligibility systems for Medicaid and other state-administered health programs (iHealthBeat, 7/2).

Extended Deadline

States still must meet the Nov. 16 deadline to declare whether they plan to run their own exchange, but they now have until Dec. 14 to submit the detailed applications -- or blueprints -- required by federal officials.

Meanwhile, states that intend to partner with the federal government now have until Feb. 15, 2013, to submit their declaration letter and blueprint. The extended deadline will not affect the anticipated launch of the exchanges in January 2014 (Pear, New York Times, 11/9).

The extended deadline is intended to give states the "appropriate technical support" necessary to pursue their own exchanges, according to Modern Healthcare (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 11/9).

Sebelius wrote that the agency had "heard from many states that additional time would allow you to submit a more comprehensive, complete blueprint application for your exchange." She added that HHS is "committed to providing you with the flexibility, resources and technical assistance necessary to help you achieve successful implementation of your state's exchange" ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/9).

Move Seen as Targeting States That Delayed ACA Compliance

The move is seen as a concession to dozens of states that delayed ACA compliance until after the presidential election, according to Reuters.

Since Tuesday's election, seven states -- including Florida, Kansas, Texas and Virginia -- have said they will not run their own exchanges, and conservatives are mobilizing a campaign to encourage other states to opt out (Morgan/Selyukh, Reuters, 11/9).


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