CMS Hopes States Will Push Forward With Health Insurance Exchanges

A CMS official overseeing health insurance exchanges said he hopes recently released regulatory guidelines will encourage states to move forward with the HIE implementation process this summer, according to a Reuters report.

Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS, said he anticipates that the level of activity will increase significantly following the release. HHS proposed the first set of regulations for health insurance exchanges this month.

Under the healthcare reform law, states must set up health insurance exchanges by Jan. 2014 or invite the federal government to step in. The exchanges are meant to create easy access to a marketplace of insurance plans and allow uninsured people and small businesses to use economies of scale to negotiate cheaper rates for healthcare coverage.

Some experts say the recently released regulations are flexible, allowing state officials to tailor state health insurance exchanges to their needs; others believe the regulations are so vague that states may have trouble deciding whether to participate. So far, just over one-third of U.S. states have enacted legislation or made other steps toward establishing an exchange.

According to CMS' Cindy Mann, the next set of regulatory guidance will address eligibility and enrollment requirements.

Read the Reuters report on health insurance exchanges.

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