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Moving Forward and Implementing Health Reform

A new report finds 28 states have taken important steps toward establishing a key component of health care reform—Affordable Insurance Exchanges

It’s been nearly two years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. In that time, the law has already made an incredible difference to millions of Americans:

  • 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance.
  • As of October 2011, more than 2.65 million seniors got a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole.
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick or put a lifetime cap on the amount of care you can receive.

Of course, there is more to come in the years ahead. Starting in 2014, consumers in every state will have access to Affordable Insurance Exchanges – State-based one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs.  Exchanges will offer consumers the same kinds of insurance choices that members of Congress now have. And millions of middle class families will get tax credits to make it easier to buy insurance in the Exchanges.

Under the health reform law, States have the first opportunity to set up and manage an Exchange and States are taking action.  Today, we released a new report which finds 28 States have taken important steps toward establishing their own Exchanges. Some of the examples in the report include:

  • Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a physician, issued an Executive Order that created the Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission on June 2, 2011, which recommended that Alabama establish its own Exchange called the “Alabama Health Insurance Marketplace. The legislature, which meets in February, is expected to take up legislation to establish an Exchange, with legislative leaders already indicating their support.
  • Colorado passed a bipartisan bill to establish the independent Colorado Health Insurance Exchange, which was signed into law on June 1, 2011. The Colorado Exchange has started public education about health reform and the Exchange at its website, Organizations such as the Colorado branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry have been active participants in creating the small business component of the Exchange. 
  • In Nevada, unanimous, bipartisan legislation authorized the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, which was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval on June 16, 2011.  Its board has been appointed, executive director named, and application submitted for its next round of funding for building the Exchange.

Today’s report also outlines some of the steps the Department of Health and Human Services has taken to ensure all Americans have access to an Exchange beginning in 2014. These include developing the information technology and business systems necessary to facilitate Exchanges in multiple States.  No matter where you live, on January 1, 2014, an Exchange will be up and running.

As we move forward, we’ll continue to build on our strong partnerships with State leaders nationwide and help ensure all Americans can access high quality, affordable health care and have the security they need and deserve.

Nancy-Ann DeParle is Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff