Matthew Holt

The Federal Exchange–Lost in alternate history

The next few days will be all about exchanges, or more accurately the “American Health Benefit Exchanges for Individuals and Small Business Health Options Program.” Tim Jost has a long and excellent article at Health Affairs blog explaining them, and–Yikes!–it’s the first of three. There’s going to be different rules for individuals versus small businesses, and of course differences as to whether Medicaid plans (which will cover more poor individuals) will be part of the exchange. For states that decide not to implement the exchange themselves, it’ll be done by the Feds–assuming that the whole thing doesn’t get repealed (and it won’t). But I remain very concerned that the complexity of 50 different exchanges, not to mention the ability of HHS to really keep an eye on all of them, is a problem–one that would be much reduced with a single Federal Exchange looking something like FEBHP. As Jost says, The Senate version of the ACA which became law (in contrast to the House version which did not) creates the exchanges at the state rather than the federal level. For that we have Scotty Brown and the voters of Massachusetts to blame. And thus the weirdness of the American political system has given us a long series of headaches for years to come.

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