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19-11-2012 | Article

States get another exchange deadline extension


HHS letter

medwireNews: Less than 24 hours before the deadline, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to allow another month for states to notify the Department of their intentions regarding the extent of government involvement required to set up a health insurance marketplace per the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The new date is now set for December 14, when states must also provide a more detailed blueprint of how they will set up these health insurance exchanges, allowing millions of people to shop for coverage in a more competitive marketplace.

"States have and will continue to be partners in implementing the health care law," Sebelius wrote in a letter, "and we are committed to providing states with the flexibility, resources and time they need to deliver the benefits of the health care law."

The postponement was in response to a Republican Governors Association (RGA) letter that addressed the White House administration on November 14. The communication described the timeframe and provisions needed to meet the "financial obligations and complex technicalities" of the ACA as "simply unworkable."

Writing on behalf of the RGA, which consists of 29 Republican governors and two governor-elects, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana noted that states are "struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive far-reaching decisions prudently."

The governors requested more time and information to be able to better weigh the pros and cons, as well as the short- and long-term implications, of a state-based versus federal exchange (or a unique combination of the two). The appeal also included a list of queries that asked, for example, how state and federal systems will manage to work in concert. The letter also requested to know the details of various funding scenarios, such as how grant money is dealt with if a state that is supported to build a state exchange subsequently decides to go with a federal exchange.

At the moment, according to Kaiser Health News, seven states - Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Wisconsin - have still not decided whether to form state-based exchanges.

"We are confident Governors will have enough time to decide whether they want to establish an Exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or have a federally facilitated Exchange in their state," Sebelius wrote.

By Peter Sergo, medwireNews Reporter