Governor Says 'No' to State Health Insurance Exchange

By Sluss, Michael | The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA), December 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

Governor Says 'No' to State Health Insurance Exchange


Sluss, Michael, The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA)


Gov. Bob McDonnell has informed the Obama administration that Virginia won't create a state-based health benefits exchange for 2014, deferring for now a decision on how best to manage an insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses.

McDonnell informed the administration of his decision in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on Friday, the deadline for states to request conditional approval for a state-run health benefits exchange. McDonnell's decision was not a surprise. For months, he has complained that the federal government has not provided enough information for his administration to determine whether Virginia would have enough control over its own exchange.

Virginia received a $1 million federal grant to plan for its own exchange, and a McDonnell-appointed advisory council concluded last year that an exchange should not be left to the federal government. Virginia health insurers also have voiced support for a state-run exchange.

"Originally, I asked that we begin the planning process to potentially operate a state-based exchange for Virginia, primarily so we would be in control of this process," McDonnell said in a statement late Friday afternoon. "However, despite repeated requests for information, we have not had any clear direction or answers from Washington until recent days, and we cannot conclude, as we review those materials, that we would have the control and flexibility needed to efficiently and effectively run our own state exchange."

The exchanges, which are mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, are supposed to be running by Jan, 1, 2014.

McDonnell has said he's not ready to move forward on two key provisions that require action by the states - expanding the Medicaid program and creating the state-based health insurance exchange.

The exchange would serve as a database where individuals and small businesses could shop for insurance coverage.

If a state chooses not to set up its own exchange, it can defer to the federal government to run the exchange or enter into a partnership arrangement. …

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