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Stakeholders React to Proposed HIX Rules

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, July 14, 2011

While the Department of Health and Human Services' proposed rules for the creation of health insurance exchanges presents a set of challenges to health insurers, the proposed regs are receiving mostly positive comments from stakeholders, including industry groups and consumer advocates.

The rules, proposed Monday, outline the requirements a state must meet to launch an exchange. And while few have had the chance to fully review the 200+ pages of rules, as might be expected, stakeholders have been able to quickly focus on the sections that apply to their interests.

At the announcement of the proposed rules Monday, HHS officials emphasized the flexibility that states will have in development of a HIX. Steve Larsen, director of the center for consumer information and insurance oversight at HHS, said that states may design "exchanges that work for them."

The industry group, America's Health Insurance Plans embraced the HHS decision to put states in the driver's seat in the development of HIX. "We agree that states are in the best position to establish exchanges because they have the experience and local-market knowledge to ensure exchanges meet the needs of consumers in their state," said Karen Ignagni, AHIP president and CEO in a statement.  She cautioned that as they develop exchanges, states should take care to "avoid duplicating existing state regulations that will add complexity and increase costs for consumers." 

Mike Russo, a policy analyst at U.S. PIRG, a consumer advocacy group, said in a statement that  "HHS released a menu, not a recipe" and he encouraged state leaders to "take the flexibility they've been given to design a strong, negotiating exchange on behalf of consumers. Consumers need this new exchange to lower costs and improve the quality of their coverage."

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