HHS, states working toward health insurance exchanges

Insurers shouldn't bank on political uncertainties or the legal challenge to the health reform law as obstacles preventing them from operating within health insurance exchanges. Despite these hurdles, 28 states and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) already have taken steps to establish a health insurance exchange, according to a White House report released Wednesday.

Of those states, 14 have passed legislation or already have the authority to set up the exchanges, while another 14 have enacted executive orders or authorized studies to determine the value of exchanges, Reuters reported.

An administration official said during a press briefing that "it would be premature at this point" to conclude that the remaining 22 states wouldn't be prepared to meet the 2014 exchange deadline, adding that another round of proposed grants could bring the tally to "well over 30 states" that are working toward implementing an exchange, according to Kaiser Health News.

"We're going to meet states where they are and ... we're going to work with them to get them as far down the path as we can," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters noted.

HHS, meanwhile, is preparing a federal exchange option for states that don't meet the deadline, KHN noted. "We are making substantial progress of development of federal exchanges," including signing contracts with private sector vendors to create the systems, an administration official said.

"No matter where you live, on Jan. 1, 2014, an exchange will be up and running," Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle said on the White House blog.

To learn more:
- read the White House HIX report (.pdf)
- see the Reuters article
- check out the White House blog
- read the Kaiser Health News article