Illinois, HHS to partner on exchange

By BenefitsPro


By Kathryn Mayer

The Health and Human Services Department conditionally approved Illinois to operate a state partnership exchange Wednesday.

A partnership agreement is just one of three options for states. Exchanges can be run by individual states, by the federal government or by a combination of the two under an arrangement—the state partnership exchange. The state partnership exchange model is an option provided to states that want to manage part of the exchange in 2014.

HHS says a partnership exchange allows states to make key decisions and tailor the marketplace to local needs and market conditions.

“I applaud efforts by Illinois to build a new health insurance marketplace,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Working together, we will be ready in eight months when residents of Illinois will be able to use the new marketplace to easily purchase quality, affordable health insurance plans.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn praised President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, calling access to decent health care “a fundamental right.”

“We are going to be working very hard between now and Oct. 1 to educate the people of our state about the health care coverage options they will have through the marketplace, thanks to President Obama's leadership.”

Oct. 1 marks the beginning of open enrollment.

With today’s conditional approval of Illinois, that brings the total of states approved to either run their own exchanges or work in partnership with the federal government to 20, in addition to the District of Columbia.

The remaining states have until Feb. 15 to apply for a state partnership marketplace.

Though exchanges are scheduled to begin operating on Jan. 1, 2014, many governors have refused to implement their own exchanges or stalled making plans until after the presidential election. Others have complained there hasn’t been enough guidance from the government on how to do so. For those that don’t intend to set up an exchange, the government will set up one for them.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com