Deadlines Extended for State Health Insurance Exchanges
With many states struggling to meet the November 16 deadline to announce their intentions, the federal government gave states an extra month — or longer — to file applications.
The federal government just bought states a little more time.
Facing a Friday deadline to announce their intent to create a state health insurance exchange, many states were likely to miss the deadline.
The Affordable Care Act requires states to set up insurance exchanges, or participate in a federal program, by January 2014, when most Americans will be required to carry health insurance. But many states had delayed work on an exchange while they waited to see if President Barack Obama would be reelected.
Some states, such as Wisconsin and Tennessee, have struggled politically with the implications of the law. Others, nervous about missing the deadline, argued that they had not received enough guidance from the federal government, according to The New York Times.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius addressed concerns of time and guidance in a letter released Friday [PDF], extending the deadlines to December 14 for state-based exchanges and February 15 for state partnership exchanges. She also promised more details would come shortly.
“This administration is committed to providing significant flexibility for building a marketplace that best meets your state’s needs,” she wrote. “We intend to issue further guidance to assist you in the very near future. Funding is now available to you no matter where you are in the process of establishing an exchange and no matter whether you plan to run your own exchange, partner with another state, or work with the federal government.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the deadline extensions were “no surprise” due to the lack of information given, according to the Times, while former federal exchange official Joel S. Ario told the paper that the decision increases the odds that states will go with their own implementations. If they do not get in touch with the government, a federal plan will be implemented.
Earlier this month, ASAE director of public policy Chris Vest pointed out that associations could play a key role in assisting states with setting up insurance exchanges. “Under the law, trade, industry, and professional associations are eligible for grants to help raise awareness about the exchanges,” he wrote in a November 5 article for Associations Now.
The exchanges, when implemented, are expected to help up to 25 million Americans choose their health insurance options.
(TMG archive photo)