CMS Signals Exhanges Are 'On Track'; HHS Gives 4 More States Conditional Approval

Also, three states -- Utah, Idaho and New Mexico -- are facing a time crunch to be ready for an Oct. 1 launch for their exchanges, and some states are seeking an OK from the federal government to direct low-income residents who are eligible for Medicaid to buy health coverage with tax dollars from the exchanges.

CQ HealthBeat: CMS Says Exchanges On Track Even Though House Rejects Added Funds For Agency
A federal official who Thursday announced another round of conditional approvals for partnership exchanges also said that the new marketplaces will open as scheduled in all states on Oct. 1, despite Congress’ refusal to increase the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Service’s administrative budget. Gary Cohen made that prediction after he was asked about the refusal by the House Wednesday to agree to an Obama administration request to add $949 million to the agency’s fiscal 2013 administrative budget. Cohen heads the CMS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (Reichard, 3/8).

The Hill: HHS Approves 4 More Exchanges Under Obama's Health Law
Four states won conditional approval from the Obama administration Thursday to implement the key piece of President Obama's healthcare law in partnership with the federal government. The Health and Human Services Department conditionally approved insurance exchanges in Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and West Virginia (Baker, 3/7).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Idaho, Utah, N.M. Running Out Of Time To Set Up State Exchanges
Three western states which had gotten tentative go-aheads to run their own online health insurance websites — Utah, Idaho and New Mexico — are running out of time to be ready for an Oct. 1 launch and experts doubt they will get green lights from the federal government (Galewitz, 3/8).

Kaiser Health News/MPR News: Minnesota Senate Passes Exchange Bill
The Minnesota Senate on Thursday night followed the House in passing legislation to create an online health insurance marketplace under the federal health law. A legislative conference committee will meet in coming days to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills. More than one million Minnesotans are projected to find health coverage through the exchange, which is slated to be up and running in October (Stawicki, 3/8).

Bloomberg: States Seek To Direct Medicaid Patients To Exchanges
Lower-income residents eligible for Medicaid may be directed to buy coverage from health insurance exchanges using tax dollars, an option the Obama administration is weighing. Multiple states have asked about the arrangement, Gary Cohen, the director of the U.S. Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said today on a conference call with reporters. Cohen, whose agency is implementing much of the 2010 health-care law, didn’t say how many governors made the request to use Medicaid money as a conduit for people to obtain private health plans next year through the new exchanges (Wayne, 3/8).

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