HHS extends states' health-exchange deadline, again

Governors say the feds have not provided key information.

For the second time in a week, states that have delayed taking action to create federally mandated health insurance exchanges were granted an extension of a key deadline by the Department of Health and Human Services.                                                        

As noted last Thursday by The Hill Healthcare, the latest delay extends the deadline for states to file a notice of intent to operate a state-based exchange to Dec. 15. The decision came a week after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a Nov. 9 letter to governors that was posted online by Government Health IT, extended the deadline for applying to operate a state-based exchange to Dec. 15.

In other words, states can submit both a letter of intent and an application to operate their own exchange on the same day, explained Sebelius in a Nov. 15 letter to the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The letter was posted online by Kaiser Health News.

“We appreciate the administration’s acknowledgement that not enough information has been provided to the governors and hope this is a signal that the White House intends to engage directly with the governors on the substantial policy issues that remain unresolved and are open to real reform,” RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement last week, as reported by Kaiser Health News.

States can either set up their own health insurance exchanges, let the federal government handle it, or develop an exchange in partnership with the federal government. States receive federal grant money to help offset the cost.

The deadline for applying to operate an exchange in partnership with the federal government is Feb. 15.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the administration must certify by Jan. 1, 2013 states’ plans to run their own exchange. Exchanges are to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2014.