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November 15, 2012

Obama Administration Extends Deadline For State Exchanges –Again

By Phil Galewitz
KHN Staff Writer

For the second time in a week, the Obama administration gave states more time to decide whether to build online insurance marketplaces that will help millions of people buy health coverage starting next fall.

“States have and will continue to be partners in implementing the health care law and we are committed to providing states with the flexibility, resources and time they need to deliver the benefits of the health care law to the American people,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote late Thursday to the Republican Governors Association. “We will continue to work directly with individual states to address their particular questions and concerns.”

Sebelius said that states may submit both a letter of intent and an application to operate their own exchanges by Dec. 14. The original deadline had been Friday, Nov. 16.

A week ago, Sebelius said states could submit only their letters of intent by Friday but push back sending their detailed plans until Dec. 14. She also gave them until Feb. 15 to elect to partner with the federal government to operate an exchange.

Thursday’s decision came a day after the Republican Governors Association asked the administration to extend the deadline until after HHS publishes rules about how the exchanges would work.

“States are struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive far-reaching decisions prudently,” said the RGA letter signed by Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Just seven states have yet to decide whether to build and run state-based exchanges — Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have committed to running their own exchanges — far fewer than envisioned by the Obama administration when the law was passed in 2010. The rest have not yet responded, or indicated they planned to partner with the federal government or to allow the federal government to run the exchanges.

Taken fom Kaiserhealthnews.org