Governors get four more weeks to decide on exchanges

As CivSource reported earlier this week, Governors had until today to make a decision on whether they plan to have a state run or federally administered health insurance exchange. Several states held off making such a decision as they sought plans and proposals from stakeholders, in addition to waiting out the final say on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a law. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is giving states a few more weeks according to a letter sent out by Secretary Sebelius late yesterday.

In the letter, Secretary Sebelius emphasized that while all Americans will have access to exchanges in one form or another by 2014, “without delay,” the Department was working to provide states with some flexibility while time allows. “The deadline for a Declaration Letter for a State-based Exchange remains Friday, November 16, 2012. However, today, in order to continue to provide you with appropriate technical support if you are pursuing a State-based Exchange, HHS is extending the deadline for State-based Exchange Blueprint application submissions to Friday, December 14,2012. HHS will approve or conditionally approve the State-based Exchanges for 2014 by the statutory deadline of January 1,2013,” the Secretary writes.

She notes that funding is still available for states who apply to have the federal government cover the cost of standing up customized exchanges by the deadline. States in essence, have three options, a generic federally administered exchange; a customized state run exchange, or a partnership hybrid model.

Some Governors went ahead with announcing their decisions today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said he won’t be setting up an exchange noting that 90% of his state is already covered by insurance. Iowa Governor Branstad said he will be setting up a state run exchange but not before sending Secretary Sebelius some 50 questions about the “intrusive” federal mandate.