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Live Healthy, Atlanta! Thought Leader

An Insurance Exchange for Georgia

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

In November 2012, Governor Nathan Deal wrote a letter to the secretary of the United States’ Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Deal notified the secretary of Georgia’s decision not to create a state-run insurance exchange. In his letter, Deal noted that while he remains committed to common sense health care solutions, he was “… concerned with the one-size-fits-all approach and high financial burden imposed on states by this federal mandate.” (To read the letter in full, click here.)

Governor Deal is not alone in declining to create a state-run exchange. Governors in 23 other states sent Secretary Sebelius similar letters by the November 16, 2012 deadline. The deadlines set by the secretary are a story unto themselves, and shed light on what the Department of Health and Human Services hopes to see. The federal government did not anticipate that so many states would opt for federally run exchanges, and is encouraging states that are on the fence to create their own exchanges.

Originally, states were to declare both their intention to run an exchange and submit a plan for doing so. Many states were waiting to make final decisions until after the election. Sec. Sebelius allowed states to declare intent in November, and submit their plans by December 14, 2012. The deadline for states to declare their intention and plans to implement a State Partnership Exchange (a state and federal partnership) was moved to February 15, 2013. January 1, 2013 was the original date set by the health care law for the secretary of health and human services to determine whether states were prepared to run their own exchanges. On January 14, it was announced that states that expressed interest in creating their own exchanges would have an important deadline extended or even waived.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health care exchanges are set to open January 1, 2014 so  individuals and small employers (in Georgia, small employers will be defined as companies with 50 or fewer employees) to shop for health insurance. Starting in 2014, most people will be required to have some form of insurance coverage. The exchanges will direct those individuals that are eligible to Medicaid. The Supreme Court ruled that states could not be forced to expand Medicaid, so Georgia’s Medicaid eligibility will remain the same. All exchanges, no matter how they are run, must be set up by October 1, 2013.

Next week, we’ll dive into what the exchange for Georgia will be like, and how it will differ from state run exchanges in other parts of the country.



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