Working with the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, announced yet another extension of the deadline for states looking to implement and regulate their own health insurance exchange or partner with the federal government--to February 15, 2013... and likely, beyond.
Under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), HHS Secrtary Sebelius was required to determine "on or before January 1, 2013" whether each state was prepared to run its own health exchange independently. A health insurance exchange (HIX) is a set of state-regulated healthcare plans whereby individuals can purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies. Proponents of these exchanges argue that they allow consumers to purchase more cost-effective insurance within a competitive market. The exchanges are not themselves providers, but better regulate the insurance companies that are able to participate in the exchanges, and receive federal subsidies for certain services. Opponents counter that implementation and maintenace of the exchanges will cost states an extraordinary amount of money and many states already strapped for cash are unwilling to take on the financial burden. Additionally, some critics suggest that the exchanges infringe on state sovereignty.