States Move Forward On Affordable Insurance Exchange Implementation

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a new round of Affordable Insurance Exchange Establishment grants to Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia. According to the HHS, these grants will give states the flexibility and resources needed to create Affordable Insurance Exchanges. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that each state create an Exchange by Jan. 1, 2014, which is an online marketplace that will help provide individuals and small businesses access to private health insurance choices.

The HHS is required to approve or conditionally approve state-based exchanges by Jan. 1, 2013, for operation in 2014. To receive approval, each state must complete an exchange blueprint, documenting its planned compliance and operational readiness. Blueprints are due for plan year 2014 by Nov. 16, 2012.

According to State Refor(u)m, an online initiative of the National Academy for State Health Policy, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 20 states and the District of Columbia have made state benchmark plan decisions, which is the first step on the path to defining essential health benefits. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have chosen a small employer plan as their benchmark plan. Other states have chosen an HMO plan or a state employee plan.

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