The federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) is forging ahead with efforts to implement the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
As the Supreme Court deliberated on the fate of the law, the CCIIO awarded three more CO-OP startup loans.
A total of about $207 million in new CO-OP loans went to Maine Community Health Options, Community Care of Oregon and Consumer’s Choice Health Insurance Company of South Carolina.
The drafters of PPACA created the CO-OP program in an effort to increase the level of competition in the health insurance market. PPACA Section 1322 calls for the CO-OP plans to sell coverage through the exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, that PPACA is supposed to create, and to get “substantially all” of their business from individuals and small groups.
A CO-OP plan could operate in a whole state or in part of a state, or in multiple states. A CO-OP would be licensed as an insurer in each state in which it operates.
Although a CO-OP plan would offer coverage through the exchange system, it also could sell coverage outside of an exchange, according to CCIIO officials.
Congress has allocated a total of $3.4 billion in CO-OP loan funding, and CCIIO officials are hoping entities will start CO-OP programs that will serve each state and the District of Columbia.
The CCIIO made its first round of CO-OP loan announcements in February. The agency issued about $639 million in loans to seven would-be CO-OP organizers.