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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Update on State Health Insurance Exchanges

Florida was one of the states, along with Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana who opted not to create a state health insurance exchange. But in a recent turnaround, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced he will work with the federal government to set up a health insurance exchange in the state of Florida.

November 16 was the deadline for states to decide whether or not to create their own state-run health exchanges. Eighteen states have now conceded to establishing their own state-run exchanges, six states have announced they will partner with the federal government on creating exchanges, 16 states have announced they will not set up exchanges, and 11 states are still undecided.

States who decided to run their own exchanges will be able to operate them as state-run agencies, unlike those states who flatly refused and who will as a result have their exchanges run by the federal government. However, even the exchanges created by states will have to answer to the federal government. The Affordable Care Act gives the government the authority to control and direct how states run their exchanges.

One state taking a bold step is Oklahoma. Not only have they refused to create a health exchange but they are also suing to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in their state. Wisconsin is also continuing to fight against the exchange. Although the federal government has stated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not a federal takeover of the health care industry, officials in Oklahoma disagree. They feel the government control over how the states run their exchanges really does not allow them much flexibility.

The next deadline to watch for is December 14, when states are required to present to the federal government their state exchange plans. Those states who do not present plans will give the government no choice but to proceed with a federal-run program. The final deadline is January 1, 2014, when all federal, state-run and state-federal-partnership health care exchanges are required to be fully operational.
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