Reuters Interviews Joel Ario on State Officials’ Predicament Surrounding Health Exchanges

Reuters Interviews Joel Ario on State Officials' Predicament Surrounding Health Exchanges

"U.S. State Officials in Stealth Mode on Health Exchanges"
Reuters

September 16, 2012 - Reuters interviewed Manatt's Joel Ario, a managing director with Manatt Health Solutions, on the political pressure state health officials face with respect to setting up state-run health insurance exchanges.

Reuters reports that though the healthcare reform law passed in 2010 and calls for health insurance exchanges to be in full operation by January 2012, only 13 mostly Democratic states have formally committed to establishing their own insurance exchanges. A handful of others have said they would probably do it or agreed to form a partnership with the federal government, and seven states have outright refused.

States face a November 16 deadline to show that they can set up insurance exchanges, or else the federal government will step in and take over the job. Health officials in as many as 24 Republican-controlled states are working behind the scenes to set up the exchanges, but they face political opposition from Republican governors and legislators who want the states to do nothing until the national election on November 6, in hopes that the party wins enough votes to repeal the law. Health officials are concerned that they will not have enough time to set up a state-controlled exchange if they wait until the elections, and the Democrats win.

Ario said he was once asked how many states had refused to discuss the program as their leaders battled the healthcare law.

"The answer was zero," said Ario. "Every state insurance department is engaged. (Though) if you called all of them, some of them might deny it."

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