The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday, August 12, 2011, that California would be receiving over $38 million from the $185 in total funds that were being distributed among 13 states and Washington D.C., in order to assist with the development of state health insurance exchanges which are required under the nationwide health reform laws that went into place last year.
On the same day, the Department of the Treasury, in conjunction with the HHS, issued the proposed rules that the states would need to follow for exchange eligibility and tax credits.
With the funds, California’s governor received a letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who provided details regarding the available resources and options that can further help the state to properly build the insurance exchange.
In order to decrease the administrative burden on the state, enrollment in the exchange will include a more streamlined process that is coordinated with Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Other regulations which must be followed include making certain that all individuals and small businesses have access to a high quality health plans. For individuals, this can mean that they may be able to obtain financial assistance through programs that offer cost-sharing, or through tax credits. In terms of small businesses, they may receive tax credits and should be able to provide their employees with a number of health plan options from which to choose.
Individuals and their families can receive tax credits to make their insurance premiums more affordable. It is the hope of the HHS that more Americans will be able to obtain health insurance policies as a result.
Cities across California, such as Sacramento, will soon be holding public forums, in order to obtain the comments of the public regarding the drafting of the exchange regulations. Consumers, employers, state leaders, insurance companies, and health care providers are all encouraged to take part.