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State health law implementation: Race to the starting line

12/12/12     Chicago, IL

AHCJ WebcastPlease join the Chicago chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists for a special event on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

This panel discussion is sponsored by AHCJ, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Moderator: Ed Howard, executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health policy group in Washington, D.C.

Panelists:

  • Bruce Japsen, Forbes

  • Cristal Thomas, deputy governor, office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

  • Sabrina Corlette, research professor and project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University

  • David DiLoreto, M.D., chief clinical operations and innovation officer, Presence Health

Time: 6 p.m. refreshments; 6:30 p.m.  program

Location: Columbia College Journalism Department
33 East Congress, Room 219 (southwest corner of Wabash and Congress, under the L tracks)

Less than a year from now, states must be ready to enroll millions of people in insurance exchanges, as outlined in the 2010 health care overhaul law. Or, the federal government will step in to do the job, or part of it. States also have the option of opening their Medicaid programs to millions of new participants. But that's not much time, considering their long to-do lists.

At least half a dozen Republican governors had delayed implementation efforts in hopes that the Supreme Court would rule the law unconstitutional, or that Gov. Mitt Romney would win the November election and repeal the law. Neither happened, but even if they decide now to run their own exchanges, it will be difficult for those states _ and some others _ to be ready in time, say health care experts. Illinois is seeking federal help with its exchange in 2014, but is aiming to operate its own after that.

States had to notify Washington by Nov. 16 whether they intended to run their own exchanges in 2014 and must submit plans on how they plan to do so by Dec. 14. By Jan. 1, they must convince the Department of Health and Human Services that they are on track to be able to do it in time. At the same time, insurance companies are scrambling to create new health plan products to sell on the exchanges, but industry leaders complain they don't have the necessary guidance and that time is running out.

What information do the states still need from the federal government about how the federal and partnership exchanges will work? How much latitude will the states have to handle eligibility for Medicaid and to make sure that people transitioning between Medicaid and subsidized private insurance in the exchanges won't have gaps in coverage? Can the federal government be ready with its own back-up exchanges? Will insurers be ready in time?

This briefing will help you answer these questions for your readers, viewers and listeners.

Please RSVP to Carla K. Johnson.