The White House announced that 28 states are on their way to establishing Affordable Insurance Exchanges, a key component of the Obama administration’s signature healthcare reform policy.

 


“States are taking strong steps to implement health reform,” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle said in a White House statement. “The Obama administration is working in partnership with state leaders across the country.  We will ensure Americans in every State have access to an Exchange and the same kinds of insurance choices as Members of Congress.”

The Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, under which the exchanges are being created, is a top policy target of most Republican leaders, including the GOP presidential candidates.

Several states have sued the administration contending the law is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments later this year.

The exchanges will be state-based, one-stop marketplaces where people can choose a private qualified health insurance plan that fits their health needs. Beginning in 2014, they will offer same kinds of insurance choices that members of Congress will have.

The report released by the White House points to how some states are proceeding with plans to set up the exchanges, including a few that are headed by Republicans.

 They include Alabama, where Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, a physician, issued an Executive Order creating the Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission on June 2, 2011. The panel recommended that the state establish its own exchange, called the “Alabama Health Insurance Marketplace.” The legislature will take up the recommendation when it meets in February. The White House is expecting it will Ok the plan.

Also, Colorado passed a bipartisan bill to establish the independent Colorado Health Insurance Exchange which was signed into law on June 1, 2011. The Colorado Exchange has started public education about health reform and the Exchange at its website, www.getcoveredco.org. Organizations such as the Colorado branch of the National Federation of Independent Business and the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry have been active participants in creating the small business component of the state’s exchange, the White House statement said. 

And, in Nevada, unanimous, bipartisan legislation which Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law on June 16, 2011, authorized the creation of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.  Its board has been appointed, an executive director named and an application submitted for its next round of funding for building the exchange.

The administration is taking steps to ensure all Americans have access to an exchange beginning in 2014. These include developing the information technology and business systems necessary to facilitate exchanges in multiple states.

In the nearly two years since President Barack Obama signed the act into law, some states have enforced the patient protections provisions, such as banning lifetime dollar limits on coverage and ensuring coverage of proven prevention services.

 Also, 43 states and the District of Columbia are participating in a premium rate review system under which insurers must justify the rationale for any double-digit insurance premium increase. 

And all states have received grants under the law to improve prevention and public health.

The White House noted that the law has already made it possible for 2.5 million more young adults to have health insurance under a provision that extends the time a child may be carried on a parent’s health insurance.

Seniors also are already benefiting. As of October 2011, more than 2.65 million elderly Americans got a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs.

Other provisions bar insurance companies from dropping coverage when an insured person gets sick and from putting a lifetime cap on the amount of care that an insured person can receive.

ON THE NET
To read the report:
 whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/01-18-12_exchange_report.pdf

For more information on the Affordable Care Act:
healthcare.gov

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