On September 4, 2012 Governor Heineman invited representatives from 11 different organizations to speak about establishing a health care exchange in Nebraska. Health care exchanges are a key feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will serve as a new marketplace where individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance. Subsidies will also be available through the exchange to help make insurance more affordable. The Governor requested that testimony be provided on whether Nebraska should establish its own health insurance exchange, partner with the federal government on an exchange or allow the federal government to run an exchange in our state. He also asked for thoughts on how a state exchange could be financed.
Voices for Children testified that Nebraska is in the best position to understand our state’s needs and design a health insurance exchange accordingly, but that a federal partnership exchange that puts the needs of consumers first could also work. Voices for Children and others presented the Governor with a variety of options on financing a state exchange including using funds from the state’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool (CHIP) and assessing fees on health plans. Several organizations spoke about ways to make an exchange work well for consumers.
This new marketplace will provide new options for the uninsured and should make insurance more affordable for those currently purchasing it on the individual market. States have until November 16th, 2012 to submit a plan for establishing their own exchange if they wish to do so or the federal government will establish an exchange for them. The Department of Insurance, who is tasked with studying the issue of building a state exchange, has held several meetings for the public to give input. There are still two more public meetings coming up in the near future:
September 10–Omaha (Omaha Ramada Plaza, 3321 S 72nd St) 6-9 PM
September 12–South Sioux City (Marina Inn Conference Center, 385 E 4th St) 6-9 PM
It is important that the Department of Insurance hear from Nebraskans who will be impacted by health care exchanges about how to best move forward in a way that works for consumers in our state. We hope that the Governor and the Department of Insurance will maximize the opportunities currently available to improve our health care system for Nebraska children and families.