Health Insurance Exchange Dominates Early Healthcare Politics
The 215th legislature barely came to order last month before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee had scheduled Health Insurance Exchange legislation for a vote. The bill, A-2171 (Conaway, D – Burlington), would create a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) in, but not of, the Department of Banking and Insurance, meaning its Board of Directors would be free to act independently of the DOBI Commissioner. Committee amendments would create a separate advisory panel consisting of provider and payer representatives to assist the board in its operations. Once established, the exchange will provide a one-stop marketplace for purchasers of small employer and individual health benefits and it could help better spread risk.
The most contentious issue in the HBE debate thus far is over the matter of “active purchasing” versus “passive purchasing.” Both A-2171 and its Senate counterpart S-1319 (Gill, D – Essex), provide for active purchasing, meaning the Board can decline applicant insurers the ability to sell products through the Exchange. Proponents of passive purchasing argue that meeting state and federal requirements should be sufficient to qualify for access to the exchange. MSNJ is currently supporting active purchasing, provided that proper measures are adopted to prevent larger insurers from exploiting the exchange to further consolidate market power.
According to the Affordable Care Act, states must have certified HIX operational by 2014, or delegate that authority to the federal exchange.