Benefits & Compensation News

First post-election healthcare reform domino falls

The Obama administration has issued its first post-election concession to those trying to come into compliance with the healthcare reform law.

It pushed back the date by which states must submit their blueprints for establishing the health insurance exchanges the law requires be in place by 2014.

The new deadline for states to submit their plans to Washington, D.C., is Dec. 14. The previous deadline was Nov. 16.

However, Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary is still requiring governors and state lawmakers to let the federal government know whether or not their states plan on running the exchange themselves or will require federal assistance.

Those states that will let the federal government run their exchange for them have until mid-February to make their intentions known.

Many states not on board

The reason for the creation of the state exchanges is to give individuals and businesses an easier way to find an affordable health plan. And many of those choosing to purchase coverage in an exchange may be eligible for sizable federal subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

The Obama administration hoped the states would take on the burden of building and administering the exchanges. But if they chose not to, the healthcare reform law says the federal government will do it for them.

To date, 17 states and the District of Columbia have said they’ll create their own exchanges, while 10 states have already elected not to do so, according to The Associated Press.

First of several concessions?

The reason for pushing back the deadline: Many states had delayed planning until they saw who won the presidential election. A victory of Gov. Mitt Romney may have doomed several of the reform law’s mandates, including the one to build the exchanges.

As a result, many states are behind the eight ball, and Sebelius acknowledged the feds wanted to give them some flexibility when it came to building the exchange marketplace. But she did say none of the hard deadlines under the law — like the one requiring the exchanges be up and running by 2014 — will be pushed back.

The concession to push back the planning deadline, however, may just be the first in a line of concessions the administration may have to make to see its signature law implemented smoothly.

For example, it’s also been suggested that it may have to establish more lenient rules governing the exchanges to make sure they are up and running on time.

It may also have to ease the restrictions on the range of premiums people purchasing coverage in the exchanges can pay.

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