SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is switching gears on its plan for a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchange.
New Mexico will start by getting the computer services it needs to run its exchange from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The state intends to have a New Mexico-run insurance exchange ready for small businesses to shop for coverage for their employees this fall, but it will use a federally operated exchange to offer medical insurance plans to individuals for the next year, Dr. J.R. Damron, chairman of the exchange’s governing board, said Monday.
A law was enacted earlier this year to create a state-run exchange for individuals and small businesses.
But a “hybrid” approach to the exchange, Damron said, is necessary because the state doesn’t have enough time to implement its own computer system to serve individuals by a looming federal deadline.
PPACA called for states to have exchanges ready to enroll the uninsured in October and be fully operating by January. States had the option of establishing their own exchange, leaving it to the federal government or developing a state-federal partnership for some operations
Although New Mexico will rely on the federal exchange for enrolling uninsured individuals until October 2014, the state will determine the health benefit packages that are offered to individuals and will regulate prices charged by private insurers for those insurance plans.
“The state of New Mexico is different than Massachusetts or California or whatever. Our prices will be different. The feds will use our prices not someone else’s prices,” said Damron, a Santa Fe physician.