Health insurance exchanges charge forward

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Both California and New York have taken major steps toward implementing their state-run health insurance exchanges.

California's implementation of its statewide exchange continues after health committees in both the state Senate and Assembly agreed the benchmark plan--which sets the baseline benefits that health plans must offer--should be the Kaiser Small Group HMO, reported the Ventura County Star.

Under bills introduced in both of the California Legislature's houses, the benchmark plan incorporates all coverage requirements under California law, including autism and contraception coverage, as well as the federal requirements, California Healthline reported.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernandez (D-Los Angeles), who introduced legislation (S.B. 951) to make the Kaiser plan the benchmark, said California must continue preparing for health reform regardless of the Supreme Court's ruling on the law. "It's the law right now in the United States," he said. "We have to be ready by Jan. 1, 2014."

Bill Monning (D-Carmel), chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, introduced a similar bill (A.B. 1453). "We've tried to find the best combination of coverage and cost affordability," he said.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order creating a state-run insurance exchange. Cuomo asked state lawmakers to set up the exchange, but when the Republican majority refused to consider it, the governor took action himself, reported The New York Times.

"The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage," Cuomo said. "Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the healthcare marketplace, driving costs down across the state."

To learn more:
- check out California's S.B. 951 and A.B. 1453
- see Gov. Cuomo's executive order
- read the Ventura County Star article
- see the California Healthline article
- check out the New York Times article

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