On Friday, a coalition of 17 states released an online tool to help state governments create a platform for navigating health insurance exchanges, the Washington Post reports (Kliff, Washington Post, 6/8).
Under the overhaul, states by January 2014 must create state-based health insurance exchanges to provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.
States can choose to administer the exchanges -- for which they must have some infrastructure in place by January -- 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 (iHealthBeat, 5/30).
The coalition, named Enroll UX2014, is being led by the California HealthCare Foundation and is supported by $3 million in funding from eight not-for-profit groups that support the overhaul. CHCF is the publisher of iHealthBeat.
The 17 member states include New York and Washington, which support the overhaul, as well as Republican-governed states such as Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico and Tennessee. According to the Post, the bipartisan nature of the collaboration is evidence that even states that oppose the overhaul still plan to meet the law's deadlines.
Mark Smith, president of CHCF, said, "There's no reason to leave this very important subject up to political vagaries and budget shortfalls."
Details of Online Tool
Members of the coalition worked with the design firm Ideo to create a user interface for state health insurance exchanges. The system decides how many health options consumers should view at once and the order in which options should be displayed. States will be permitted to use the tool as they wish.
According to the Post, states still have much work to do on the exchanges. For example, they still must develop technology to verify an individual's income and calculate available subsidies. However, the tool's interface alone might have save states "months" of work, the Post reports.
The backers hope the tool will help states overcome financial and political setbacks and meet deadlines under the health reform law (Washington Post, 6/8).