West Virginia opts for the “hands off” approach in new health exchange program

Jane Cline, West Virginia Insurance Commissioner
Jane Cline, West Virginia Insurance Commissioner

The West Virginian Senate has determined that the state will not be running its own insurance exchange program, opting instead to leave the reins in the hands of the federal government. All states are required to establish insurance exchanges by 2014 according to the Affordable Care Act, but they do have the option to choose whether or not to set it up themselves.

The legislation that would pave the way for the exchange was shot down by a close voice vote.

State Insurance Commissioner, Jane Cline, along with her office, drafted a proposal that would still allow the state the run the exchange, though with several amendments that she hopes will placate opponents. Cline has said that state-run exchanges are the best options for both consumers and insurance companies.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to work with the membership,” Cline said after the Senate Finance Committee rejected legislation. “We believe that it is in the best interest of the state that West Virginia operates the exchange.”

Should the federal government be in control of the exchange, West Virginia would have little say in the direction of the program.

There are doubts that West Virginia would be able to successfully run the program, as it has failed to run similar programs in the past. But supporters of a state-run exchange say that there is no one better for the job than the office of the insurance commissioner.

The fate of the program will be debated in the coming months and voted upon again, but the state will see an insurance exchange before the 2014 deadline.

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