Covered California exchange program set in stone

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California exchange Health InsuranceCovered California plan approved by governing board

The board that is meant to govern California’s efforts to build its own health insurance exchange have approved the operational plans for the program. This is a major step towards the state running its own health insurance exchange program and complying with federal deadlines. The California Health Benefit Exchange board, which has changed the name of the exchange program to Covered California, has sent its approval for the operational plans to the Governor’s Office, which is expected to forward these plans to the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday.

Exchange program could bring health insurance to 3 million Californians

California was the first state to successfully pass laws concerning the development of an exchange program after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The state has received grants from the federal government to build the Covered California program and has made major strides in doing so over the past two years. State officials believe that a comprehensive exchange program would be able to provide the majority of the state’s 3 million uninsured residents with affordable health care plans.

States get leeway from federal agency on exchange plans

All states are required to have a health insurance exchange, according to the Affordable Care Act. These exchanges must be fully operational by 2014. States that choose not to build their own exchange, or those that cannot meet the federal deadline, will lose the ability to control the exchange program to the federal government. Initially, states had until the end of this week to submit plans for building an exchange program. The Department of Health and Human Services has since pushed this deadline back to mid-December in the hopes of allowing states more time to finalize their plans.

Board seeks additional federal funding

The board governing Covered California has also approved an application for $700 million in federal funding, which will help the state begin the actual formation of the exchange program. California has already laid out a framework for the program, and is expected to be the first state to complete an exchange after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

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