It’s easy to become despondent when the news is this bleak.
Time is running short and the feds, as we’ve all heard, are struggling to launch the online health insurance exchanges – or marketplaces, as they’re now called – by the Oct. 1 deadline.
“The administration right now is in a triage mode. Seriously, they do not have the resources to implement all of the provisions on time,” Washington and Lee University professor Timothy Jost, a health care reform expert and advocate, told an oversight panel in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
Jost was responding to news about the Obama administration’s decision to postpone by a year the imposition of fines (yes, I know, technically, they’re taxes) on large companies that fail to provide employees affordable health care coverage.
The more troubling delay was, in fact, announced earlier this year, when the administration decided it hold off on its push to give small employers a choice of insurance plans on the exchanges.
Remarkably, amid all of this summer’s turmoil, there’s a bit of good news to share.
According to a just-out Commonwealth Fund report, many of the state-run health insurance marketplaces plan to offer small-business employees a choice of health plans that won’t be available in states with federally run exchange until 2015.
Better yet, many of the state-run exchanges are expected to provide consumers with a range of distinct plan choices exceeding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s minimum requirements.
The report looked at the 17 states that, along with the District of Columbia, have elected to run their own exchanges.
Among the report’s findings:
Nine states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island — plan to display data on quality in their marketplaces in 2014. That’s a full two years before the federal government requires it.