California kicks off new competitive health insurance marketplace

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By Consumers Union on Thursday, April 21st, 2011

This week, the Board of the California Health Benefits Exchange got off to a strong start on the road to health reform implementation with the Board’s first meeting. These new state marketplaces for insurance are a cornerstone of the new health reform law and look to expand coverage to millions of more Americans, including over 4 million Californians.

Simply put, the “Exchange” is a new competitive marketplace for health insurance that will come online in each state that opts to create one in 2014; other states may implement different programs or have a federally-established exchange to meet health reform’s goal of expanding coverage. People looking for affordable coverage will find income based subsidies, easy to compare insurance options, and new rules that give small businesses and individuals bargaining power similar to big companies.

With four out of five members appointed, the Board put forward its “public face” today to make some preliminary decisions and allow an opportunity for the public to weigh in before voting on key start-up decisions.

 

Consumer advocates applauded: repeated commitments to have an open and inclusive stakeholder process. This new marketplace for health insurance will work best if consumer advocates and other stakeholders actively participate; and with almost 100 diverse attendees, we’re off to a good start

But the task is daunting for California. As the first state to pass a law to fully implement the Affordable Care Act, all eyes are on the Golden State.  At the meeting, dedicated leadership and staff expressed their committment to ensuring this first-in-the-nation undertaking is a success and that California is the “pacer car” to lead the pack of State Exchanges.

We’ll be closely participating in regular monthly meetings of the board and ensuring that consumer voices are included. For updates on the California Health Benefits Exchange you can visit www.HealthExchange.ca.gov where the schedule of upcoming meetings, agendas and supporting materials are posted and updated regularly.

 

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