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California Works Out Details for Exchange

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Other states are watching California closely as it begins working out details of an independent board that will oversee the state's new health insurance exchange established under the federal health care reform law.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation (AB 1602 and SB 900) to lay the foundation for the California Health Benefit Exchange, which will provide a marketplace of health insurance options for an estimated 3 million state residents. The California Health Benefit Exchange is slated to be operational by 2014.

AB 1602 and SB 900 also call for the creation of a five-member oversight committee to define how the exchange will operate and run the program. Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for the advocacy group Families USA, said many states currently are debating how independent to make their health insurance exchange oversight boards. She said, "California now provides a starting point, if not a model, for other states."

Questions About Oversight Board

The California Chamber of Commerce, some taxpayer groups and other critics argue that California's board will lack sufficient accountability to the public. However, the state Legislative Analyst's Office contends that new state legislation includes "numerous provisions" to establish public accountability for the health insurance exchange.
LAO said CHBE's oversight board will:

  • Be appointed by elected officials;

  • Be subject to rules on public disclosure and open meetings;

  • Face audits and yearly performance reviews; and

  • Have four-year terms for its members.

LAO also said that the Exchange will be similar to existing state agencies that operate under independent oversight boards, such as:

  • The Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program; and

  • CalPERS' health benefits division.

Board Members

Schwarzenegger will be able to appoint two members to the board on January 1, 2011, before he leaves office. Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D- Los Angeles) each will be able to appoint one member. The final board member will be the new governor's secretary of health and human services

(Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 10/5).
Read more: http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2010/10/6/california-in-spotlight-as-it-works-out-details-for-health-benefit-exchange.aspx#ixzz11iIhu225

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