State of the States: Health Insurance Exchange Developments

July 6, 2012

This week in statehouses and capitals nationwide, governors and legislators continued mulling whether to pursue exchanges and whether to expand their state’s Medicaid program. We’ve been busy tracking the responses of Governors as they begin to evaluate their options for exchanges. Let’s run through this week’s activity.

First, early this week, exchange watchers received news that work on the Federal Data Services Hub could be making progress. The federal data hub is the system that will verify an applicant’s income, immigration status, and enrollment status in Medicaid or CHIP, during the exchange eligibility process. According to reports, the data hub has begun tests with some states, specifically Massachusetts and Maryland.

Moving on to state activity, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) said this week that he is considering letting the federal government set up an exchange in New Jersey if it is the most cost-effective option. Earlier this year, Governor Christie vetoed exchange enabling legislation that was passed and sent to him by the New Jersey legislature.

In Ohio, there are reports that the state is considering a Federal-State Partnership exchange, but no decisions have been made. In fact, it could be a while before we hear anything. Governor Kasich (R-OH) told reporters Monday that Ohio will “probably” let the federal government run Ohio’s health insurance exchange. However, he also said he would not provide a firm deadline of when he will decide on the future of Ohio’s exchange.

Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK) and Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) both announced this week that they are not planning to call special sessions for legislators to address creating a health insurance exchange. Even as both governors strike a similar tone by refusing to call special sessions, Oklahoma and Virginia have taken different paths when it comes to exchange planning. In Oklahoma, exchange planning came to a virtual standstill after the state returned a $54.4 million Early Innovator grant. In Virginia, although there is no official support for a state exchange, early planning activity has occurred. Virginia is also procuring a Medicaid eligibility and enrollment IT system that includes an option to expand the contract to include health insurance exchange technology. 

To the west, there are rumors that New Mexico is modeling its health insurance exchange after Utah. According to state Senator Dede Feldman (D), Governor Martinez’s administration “has been very keen on the Utah model for the exchange for some time now.” As you will recall, Utah-based Leavitt Partners was hired in mid-May to advise the state on exchange planning. But New Mexico is not the only state to reach out to Utah. As Alaska evaluates its options for potentially establishing an exchange, it appears the state has also been in touch with Utah for guidance.

Finally, add Vermont to the list of states that applied for exchange grants on June 29th. Last week, Vermont submitted an application to HHS for a $104.4 million Level II grant.

Print PDF