Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healthcare Exchanges Dead in Arkansas? Nope...

Yesterday, I read a blog post written by Jason Tolbert which you can review here:

In the article he quotes Governor Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample as saying:
“As far as any other federal grants to help the state set up their own health-insurance exchanges, the Legislature made it clear that they wanted the federal government and not the state government to control the establishment of our health-care exchange. The governor has said before that he will not act unilaterally against those wishes, and he does not plan to change that stance,” 

I found this statement quite interesting as just last week at the Healthcare exchange meeting I attended the steering committee was still moving full steam ahead on implementing the exchanges to include requesting additional grant money.

So I sent an email to Cynthia Crone, who is leading the effort to implement the healthcare exhanges asking her:

What grants were turned down and/or sent back?
Will the planning meetings that we have been having continue as scheduled?
Are there any other plans to request any grants in the future?

Her reply:
We did NOT send back any money We are continuing our planning. The workgroup meetings will continue as scheduled.  We are now getting the results from our background research efforts.  Four of our workgroups have met this week--two yesterday and two today.

We do plan to apply for Level One Establishment funding in September--this is the next funding opportunity for States that have made progress with their initial planning grant--which we have.  More than half the states now have exchange authority or are otherwise planning their exchange.  Sixteen states have now received the Level One grants that we plan to apply for in September.   Please don't hesitate to let me know of additional questions/concerns.

So based on this reply nothing has really changed.  The planning on the exchange will continue and the grants for planning will still be requested.

Governor Beebe is already trying to frame the debate.  Look for a battle during the fiscal session over whether we will give the insurance department permission to start implementation of the healthcare exchange at the state level.  This, of course, all hinges on if the Supreme Court decides the constitutionality of the law by then.

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