Tennessee health insurance exchange faces unclear future
Throughout the U.S., states are facing down a looming deadline from the federal government concerning their plans to establish health insurance exchanges. These states have until the end of 2012 to submit their plans to the Department of Health and Human Services or risk having the federal government begin playing a larger role in their health insurance plans. In Tennessee, plans to build an exchange have not yet been finalized, as regulators continue to determine the validity and necessity of a Tennessee health insurance exchange.
Exchange plans to be delivered by November 16
Plans for the Tennessee health insurance exchange are still on hold as Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak and her staff determine whether the state should pursue its own exchange system or allow the federal government to take over the effort. The state has to submit plans to the federal government by the end of this year if it plans to continue pursuing an exchange program on its own. Governor Bill Haslam is faced with an internal deadline, however, concerning the state’s efforts. By November 16, Haslam and the state’s insurance regulators are meant to announce plans concerning the Tennessee health insurance exchange.
Regulators concerned over the effect health care law will have on small businesses
Commissioner McPeak notes that the issue is so problematic because of the complexity of the Affordable Care Act. The health care law has introduced several significant changes to the country’s health insurance industry. Insurers are being pressured to comply with new regulations and are raising rates on coverage as a response. Commissioner McPeak is concerned with what effect these higher insurance prices will have on small businesses in the state and whether or not the Tennessee health insurance exchange will help bring some balance to the market.
Missed deadline will mean federal intervention
State regulators and lawmakers suggest that there is no easy solution to the problem they face. If the state chooses not to pursue its own health insurance exchange, the federal government will build one in the state anyway. In this scenario, Tennessee will not have the ability to manage the exchange program or determine its regulatory structure.