WASHINGTON Nov 15 The Obama administration on
Thursday gave states an extra month to say whether they plan to
operate their own health insurance exchanges, after governors
asked for more time in light of the Nov. 6 election, which
ensured the survival of Obama's healthcare overhaul.
For the second time in six days, U.S. Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extended deadlines relating
to the exchanges. On Thursday she sent a letter to governors
telling them that states would now have until Dec. 14 to tell
her department if they plan to set up an exchange.
The deadline for a letter of intent was originally set for
midnight on Friday. Last week Sebelius told governors they would
have until Dec. 14 to file a blueprint showing how their
exchanges would operate.
"While receiving a letter of intent now will help us assist
states in finalizing their application, a state may submit both
a letter of intent and an application to operate its own
exchange by Dec. 14," Sebelius said in a letter to Republican
"States may also apply to operate their exchange in
partnership with the federal government by Feb. 15, 2013. And a
state may apply at any time to run an exchange in future years,"
The extensions are seen as concessions to dozens of states
that delayed compliance with the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act until after the Nov. 6 election, which
President Barack Obama won. Opponents of the plan had hoped a
victory for Republican Mitt Romney would ultimately result in
the law's repeal.
After Obama's victory, states needed more time to prepare
for exchanges, which are complex marketplaces meant to offer
working families private insurance at federally subsidized rates
beginning in 2014.
"We are confident governors will have enough time to decide
whether they want to establish an exchange, work in partnership
with the federal government or have a federally facilitated
exchange in their state," Sebelius wrote in the letter.