Vermont lawmakers are expected to determine how the state will build its own health insurance exchange system by the end of this year. The state has been sluggish in its efforts to build an exchange due to some uncertainty and lack of guidance from the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees the exchange effort throughout the country, has granted states with enough flexibility to establish an exchange in a way they see fit. Vermont’s slow pace may put the exchange effort at risk of falling under federal authority, however, which would mean that lawmakers would lose the ability to build the exchange according to their standards.
Exchanges are a fundamental part of the Affordable Care Act. All states must build an exchange and have the system fully functional by the beginning of 2014. States must submit plans for the design of their exchanges by the end of 2012. If either deadline is missed, the federal government will begin to play a larger role in the exchange effort.
Vermont employers are nervous how the state’s exchange will affect the health care benefits they provide to employees. The exchanges may force employers to adopt high-deductible plans. These plans would be very beneficial for small businesses, but would have employees paying more for their coverage. Vermont legislators are working to ensure the state’s exchange will be beneficial for both consumers and businesses.
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