Deadline approaches for statewide health insurance exchange plans

    Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” residents in every state should have an on-line clearinghouse to shop for health insurance. 

    Nov. 16 is the deadline for states to share their blueprint with the Obama Administration.

    Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said his state can’t share a blueprint until he knows what federal officials want him to build.

    Pennsylvania asked for clarification in August in a letter to Department of Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

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    Among 26 questions, Consedine asked: What kind of autonomy will Pennsylvania have if the Commonwealth partners with the federal government?

    The Commissioner said Pennsylvania will move cautiously to avoid, “… selecting an option that’s going to burden Pennsylvanians with additional taxes and costs at a time when we continue to struggle financially.”

    The state can choose to run its own health insurance exchange, team up with the Obama Administration, or leave the planning and management up to the federal government. 

    In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak said the Garden State will have a “timely” answer but “not today.”

    Christie is focused on post-Sandy clean up and bracing for the nor’easter, Drewniak said.

    Ray Castro, policy analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective says the Governor put his decision on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the health law. 

    “Then when the Supreme Court supported the constitutionality of the legislation, then he said he wanted to wait until after the election,” he said. “It’s important that the state move on this issue and he end the delaying tactics.”

    Obama administration officials have said they will collaborate and offer states flexibility in the health law implementation. Pundits say that flexibility may need to include an extension on the Nov. 16 health-exchange deadline.

    Delaware will operate its health insurance exchange in partnership with the federal government.

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