A major deadline comes this Friday in the implementation of the massive restructuring of the U.S. healthcare system. Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka – Obamacare), all 50 States have until Friday to decide whether they will set up health insurance exchanges.
The health exchanges, which are scheduled to open their doors in 2014, will create online marketplaces where individuals and small businessescan find more affordable insurance plans. Uninsured Americans whose incomes range from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for federal subsidies.
Between 23 million and 25 million people will receive coverage through the exchanges from 2016 on, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
Since health reform remains a political flashpoint, many states were waiting to see who won the presidential election before deciding whether to set up an exchange.
Now that the election is over, it is presumed most states will move forward with the exchanges as there is no likliehood the ACA will be repealed by the next Congress.
Some 15 states and the District of Columbia have established state exchanges so far, with four others planning to set up the partnerships, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Traditionally blue states, including New York, Maryland and California, are among the ones that have created exchanges.
Another 11 states — including Texas, Florida and South Carolina, where the governors have come out strongly against the president’s initiative — have decided not to create exchanges. Another 14 states are studying their options and six have done virtually nothing to prepare.
Arizona is one of the states still weighing the choices. The Grand Canyon State received a $30 million grant to study the issue and Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, will make her decision this week, said Matthew Benson, her spokesman.
Some states will continue to push back at the exchanges so it will be interesting to see what posture the Federal Government takes with those resistant Governors.