Health insurance exchange bill passes Senate

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Yesterday the Senate passed SB 921 creating the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. The Exchange, authorized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will create a standardized, understandable marketplace for consumers and small businesses to purchase health insurance. The Exchange must be operational by 2014 when the ACA’s individual mandate becomes effective. Individuals eligible for premium subsidies under the ACA are required to purchase their coverage in the Exchange. The ACA provides funding only to establish the Exchange. Most states are passing similar legislation to create exchanges this year. CT’s Exchange will be a quasi-public agency and includes members with relevant areas of expertise. The bill also includes strong conflict of interest provisions important to advocates. Insurers, brokers, representatives of health care facilities or clinics, and trade groups are excluded. Providers may serve if they are not currently compensated for delivering health care services or invested in a health care practice. The Exchange may create advisory committees including consumer and broker issues and hire independent navigators to help individuals and small businesses understand health insurance and make wise purchases. The Exchange will work with the SustiNet Cabinet to assess the feasibility of exercising the ACA’s Basic Health Option to cover lower income adults not eligible for Medicaid but who may not be able to afford private coverage even with subsidies. The Exchange will also coordinate applicants’ Medicaid eligibility. Next the bill goes to the House.
Ellen Andrews