Via Julian Walker at the Virginia Pilot:
Virginia officials are planning for the creation of a state health insurance exchange to comply with the federal health care act, even as Gov. Bob McDonnell supports a state legal challenge that could overturn the law.
A meeting Tuesday of the Joint Commission on Health Care included an update on the process of setting up an exchange. The panel also heard from a think tank scholar who spoke against that approach.
Health insurance exchanges are marketplaces through which individuals without insurance and small businesses without group insurance plans can buy coverage. Those who meet income eligibility guidelines could receive subsidies.
Dr. Bill Hazel Jr., Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources, said it’s prudent to be prepared, given the uncertain outcome of the lawsuits over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a signature policy initiative of President Barack Obama.
As the CBPP’s Dave Chandra pointed out last week, “virtually every state has made at least some progress toward setting up [the] health insurance marketplaces,” including states like Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama — which are also challenging the the constitutionality of the health law. Last week, the Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw reported that Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has also given state health officials the green light to work towards enacting a state-based exchange. Under the reform law, any state that does not build its own program will be required to hand over its operations to the federal government.
In total, 16 states have “passed exchange-related legislation,” 39 states have introduced exchange legislation this year, and “48 states (all except Louisiana and Florida) plus the District of Columbia are engaged in some level of exchange planning.” So far, “only Louisiana has publicly announced that it won’t set up an exchange.”