Three proposed rules that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued on Friday aim to provide a simple, streamlined, and affordable path for consumers to purchase private health insurance through Health Insurance Exchanges ("Exchanges").
Specifically, the rules establish eligibility determinations for Exchange participation and insurance affordability programs and standards for employer participation in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Small employers participating in SHOP will be able to offer their employees a choice of health plans and cut their costs with new tax credits. Additionally, individuals and families will receive premium tax credits to help defray insurance costs. The rules also propose coordinating Exchanges with Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program eligibility, making enrollment seamless for qualified Americans and reducing the administrative burden on states.
Also on Friday, HHS awarded 13 states and the District of Columbia more than $185 million dollars in Exchange Establishment grants. To date, 49 states and the District of Columbia have received Exchange Planning grants, and 7 states received Early Innovator grants. A number of states have indicated interest for future rounds of Exchange Establishment grants.
APTA will provide a more detailed summary of the proposed rule shortly.
In July, HHS released the first of its proposed rules on the Exchanges. Comments on that proposal are due September 10. The Exchanges will become operational January 1, 2014.