Obama administration issues new rules for state healthcare exchanges

Health Care Reform RulesThe Obama administration has released a new set of rules for the states that involve broad new operating regulations for their healthcare exchanges.

These state-run health insurance exchanges make up the heart of the system’s overhaul from 2010, which will be facing hearings in the Supreme Court before the end of the month. These rules, which were issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, have been long awaited by the states, and are designed to provide their officials and lawmakers with greater flexibility on the federal deadlines that have been set as they proceed toward the creation of their health insurance marketplaces for individuals and small businesses ahead of the start of 2014.

This final ruling was presented among 642 pages that offer guidance regarding the ways in which the states should build their exchanges, as well as how they may qualify to participate in health plans and decide on individual and small business eligibility for the use of the exchanges to obtain health insurance coverage.

Both consumer and industry groups welcomed the long-awaited rules, as they have finally offered the states the additional flexibility that they require to be able to meet the quality protection and choice needs for consumers. These groups have also indicated that the new rules alter the policy focus to the level of the state, since this is the location where the new regulations must be put into place.

These exchanges are one of two unique primary efforts being made to ensure that the approximately 30 million Americans currently without insurance will be able to gain access to coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A second effort will include a significant increase in the Medicaid joint federal-state program.

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