Lawmakers in Oregon are getting ready to convene and approve the acceptance of a federal grant that would help the state establish their own health insurance exchange. The $48 million grant is being offered by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of its initiative to help states handle the cost of constructing exchanges. There are some in the state’s Senate that are leery of accepting government money for the program, as it is a part of the hotly contested health care reform.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that every state have a fully operational and self-sufficient exchange program in place by 2014. If states fail to meet this mandate, the federal government will establish an exchange and operate it themselves. Several states have issues lawsuits against the federal government, calling the reform an overstepping of constitutional boundaries. Others, however, have taken advantage of the government’s willingness to provide money for the programs.
In the past, Oregon has struggled with developing large system on par with exchanges. Many of the services offered by the program will be done electronically. To support this, a massive IT infrastructure must be established. This is a challenging undertaking and has taken even the most tech-savvy companies years to accomplish.
Legislators are still divided on whether or not the exchange is a viable option. Governor John Kitzhaber says that taking steps to establish the exchange now would ensure that it would be operated by Oregon and not the federal government.
Many insurance companies are in favor of exchange programs, as it opens a new field of competition in the industry.