Last week the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee received a briefing by the Nebraska Department of Insurance. The topic was the mandated health care exchanges created in the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Although the federal health care act provides the basic framework for creating the exchanges, significant issues are being resolved through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who are still developing the rules and regulations.
At a minimum, each exchange must implement procedures to certify health plans, assign a rating to each plan and standardize the format for presenting options, inform individuals of eligibility for Medicaid and determine eligibility for federal insurance premium subsidy programs.
They must be deemed a “Qualified Health Plan” and provide “minimum essential benefits.” Unfortunately we have not yet learned what “minimum essential benefits” means.
With all this uncertainty, the deadlines have not changed. Each state’s health care exchange must be certified by the Secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services by January 1, 2013, be operational by January 1, 2014 and self-sustaining by 2015.
This means any changes need to current Nebraska state statutes must happen this next session. Nebraska must build a plan without a foundation in place.
With each new briefing it becomes clearer just how much of a massive undertaking creating a health care exchange will be, not only for Nebraska, but all states.
I encourage you to learn more about the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and tell us, who represent you, your questions and concerns. I know Congressman Lee Terry, Senator Ben Nelson and Senator Mike Johanns value your input, as I do.