For the second time in only one week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has extended the deadline for states to decide whether they will create and run a health insurance exchange.
States now have until Dec. 14 to tell HHS if they plan on establishing their own exchange and, if so, they also must submit a blueprint for the system, reported The Wall Street Journal. Just a few days earlier, HHS said states only had to submit their letters of intent to design an exchange by the original Nov. 16 deadline and could send in detailed plans by Dec. 14.
The decision comes after the Republican Governors Association requested HHS push back the deadline until the agency publishes rules about how the exchanges would work, CBS News reported. "States are struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive far-reaching decisions prudently," Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said in a letter to HHS.
Hours before the Friday deadline, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the governors she extended the time limit. "We are committed to providing you with the flexibility, resources and technical assistance necessary to help you achieve successful implementation of your state's exchange," she said in the letter.
Sebelius added that HHS soon would be providing more information and guidance to help states create exchanges, NBC News reported. "Additional guidance will be released in the coming days and weeks," she wrote. "We are confident governors will have enough time to decide whether they want to establish an exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or have a federally facilitated exchange in their state."