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HHS Releases Proposed Rules for HIX

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, July 12, 2011

The creation of health insurance exchanges took another step forward with the release Monday of the long awaited proposed rules that outline the requirements a state must meet to launch an exchange.

The exchanges, which were created by the Affordable Care Act, are expected to provide coverage to an estimated 11.5 million people, including members of Congress, in 2014. According to a March 2011 report from the Congressional Budget Office, health insurance exchange enrollment by individuals and small businesses will grow to 27.6 million by 2021.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced the proposed rules at a Washington, D.C press conference saying the exchanges will provide individual consumers and small businesses with a “one-stop shop to purchase healthcare coverage” and force health insurers to compete by making healthcare premium charges more transparent.

The ACA requires that states create HIX or what the HHS refers to as “affordable insurance exchanges” by January 2013 and that the HIX be up and running by January 2014.

To jumpstart the process, 49 states, the District of Columbia and four territories accepted HHS grants to plan and operate exchanges. Only Oklahoma declined the funds. More than 50% of the states have taken the additional step of passing legislation or taking administrative action to begin building exchanges.

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