States Move Forward, Implement Health Reform

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted December 16, 2010

As a former Governor and Insurance Commissioner, I believe that states are critical partners in improving health care for American families.  That’s why, from the very beginning, we have worked closely with all states to implement the Affordable Care Act. 

While the court cases focusing on the individual responsibility provision will undoubtedly wind their way through the judicial system over the next several years, work throughout the country continues to deliver consumer protections and develop a more fair, competitive, and affordable insurance market. And today, states are taking another step forward to implement health insurance reform.

Starting this morning, over 150 officials from 44 states and the District of Columbia, and numerous HHS representatives are holding a two-day working meeting to discuss the next steps in each State’s efforts to establish a Health Insurance Exchange – the new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for quality, affordable health care beginning in 2014.  

This working meeting is part of our regular communication with the states to provide the support they need to help turn the health care law into a reality, including several major meetings and weekly calls with hundreds of state officials.

Even though the Exchanges are still three years away, states have hit the ground running.  Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia applied for and received grants to begin to conduct the research and planning needed to build a better health insurance marketplace.  These early grants give states flexibility to figure out how their Exchanges will be operated and governed, in the way that works best for them.

And states that are willing and able to lead the effort to develop IT systems for the Exchanges will soon be developing models that can be used across the country – one of the many ways that we are giving states the flexibility to be laboratories of innovation, to help create a better health care system for all Americans.

This is just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing to work together to help more Americans and small businesses access quality, affordable health care.

For more information on the Exchanges, click here.