HHS Extends Deadline for States To Submit Exchange Plans to Dec. 14

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The Department of Health and Human Services Nov. 9 extended the deadline for states to submit plans for state-based health insurance exchanges until Dec. 14.

States still need to notify HHS by Nov. 16 whether they intend to set up their own exchange, but have until Dec. 14 to submit an actual plan for the exchange.

In a letter to all governors, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that states still need to notify HHS by Nov. 16--the original deadline--whether they intend to set up their own exchange.

But, in an acknowledgment that many states said they needed more time, Sebelius said HHS will extend the deadline for submitting an actual plan for the exchange, known as a “blueprint,” until Dec. 14.

Sebelius said HHS will approve or conditionally approve the state-based exchanges by the statutory deadline of Jan. 1, 2013.

'Partnership Exchange' Option.

Another option is for states to work with HHS in setting up a “partnership exchange,” in which HHS will provide key services for the exchange and the state will operate one or more related activities.

Sebelius, in her letter, said HHS will extend until Feb. 15 the final deadline for states to submit a blueprint as well as notify HHS if they intend to partner with the department in setting up and operating an exchange.

Sebelius said HHS will approve the state partnership applications “on a rolling basis.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running in all states by January 2014. They will serve as online venues where people without insurance can compare and purchase coverage offered by different insurance plans. To date, some 13 states and the District of Columbia have declared their intention to create an exchange.

In states that decide not to create an exchange, the federal government will step in and establish one.

Sebelius emphasized that the Obama administration “is committed to providing significant flexibility for building a marketplace that best meets your state's needs.” She noted that funding in the form of exchange establishment grants remains available, with Nov. 15 as the next application deadline.

By Ralph Lindeman  

The letter from Sebelius to state governors is at http://op.bna.com/hl.nsf/r?Open=jcon-8zvu46.

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