HHS approves 8 more state exchanges, issues guidance for state-fed model

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services conditionally approved eight more states to operate health insurance exchanges.

California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah will run their own state-based exchanges. Arkansas will partner with HHS to run its exchange, reported The Hill's Healthwatch. That brings the total to 19 states plus Washington, D.C., that won conditional approval to either partially or fully run their own exchanges.

Among the approvals, Utah's was likely the most surprising decision because Gov. Gary Herbert last month said that Utah wouldn't expand or alter its existing exchange. Instead, he requested that HHS approve the exchange as is, allowing it to serve as a "bare-minimum" standard that other states could follow, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

But HHS did require Utah to upgrade its three-year old exchange to meet all of the exchange provision's requirements, including expanding coverage to individuals and establishing a consumer-outreach program to help them navigate the exchange. HHS officials said Utah must submit a progress report by Feb. 1, according to Kaiser Health News.

Herbert said he will review HHS's stipulations to determine whether they're "acceptable or reasonable" but remained steadfast that "Utah's model is the right solution for Utah," Deputy Chief of Staff Ally Isom said. "Utah's position on our state health exchange has not changed, and it will not change."

Along with the conditional approvals, HHS released guidance for states considering partnership with the agency to operate an exchange. In the guidance, HHS detailed the scope of responsibilities for both state and federal governments, reported LifeHealthPro.

To learn more:
- here's the HHS exchange guidance
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- check out the Salt Lake City Tribune article
- see the Kaiser Health News article
- read the LifeHealthPro article

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