HHS Approves Exchanges in 6 States

By Guest Blogger

We congratulate Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon and Washington on becoming the first states to obtain conditional approval from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish state-based health insurance exchanges. All six are on track to be ready for the open enrollment period, starting October 1, 2013. Their progress will be invaluable for other states planning state-based health insurance exchanges in the coming year.

States that have not already announced their plans have until this Friday, December 14th, to announce their intention in a declaration letter and submit blueprints outlining how they plan to operate their insurance exchanges. All states will have health insurance exchanges next year, but HHS will set up and operate the exchanges (as a partnership or federally facilitated exchange) in any state that decides against setting up their own exchange by the end of this week.

In an FAQ released in conjunction with the announcement of the conditional approvals, HHS also confirmed its plan to accept exchange blueprints and approve state partnership exchanges on a rolling basis until February 15, 2013. In a partnership exchange, HHS will establish and operate the exchange, and the state will help HHS perform one or both of the following functions within the exchange: plan management (state will certify insurance plans for sale in the exchange and monitor their compliance with exchange rules) and in-person consumer assistance (state will ensure that there is assistance available to help residents understand and enroll in coverage).

This new FAQ is “must-read” as it also addresses a number of other key issues related to the health insurance exchanges, such as consumer outreach; Navigators and enrollment assistance; the single, streamlined application; and the Medicaid expansion.

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