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.

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About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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