Tuesday, November 13, 2012 HHS Extends Blueprint Deadlines for State-based, 2014 Partnership Exchanges In order to continue to provide states that are pursuing state-based exchanges with appropriate technical support, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is extending the deadline for blueprint applications to Friday, December 14. Originally states had to provide federal regulators a blueprint by November 16, as outlined in HHS' final rule. The deadline for a declaration letter for a state-based exchange remains Friday, November 16, 2012. In a November 9 letter sent to governors, HHS says it will approve or conditionally approve the state-based exchanges for 2014 by the statutory deadline of January 1, 2013. HHS will accept declaration letters and blueprint applications for states that are pursuing state partnership exchanges and make approval determinations on a rolling basis. The final deadline for both the declaration letter and blueprint that would be effective for 2014 has been extended to Friday, February 15, 2013, says the letter. States will be able to apply to run these exchanges in subsequent years. Most qualified health plans offered in exchanges must include the 10 categories of essential health benefits (EHB) mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which include rehabilitative and habilitative services. HHS is expected to release the final rule on EHB in the near future.