The Hill: Hatch presses HHS for details on federal exchange

Hatch presses HHS for details on federal exchange

By Sam Baker – 09/25/12 05:43 PM ET

The Obama administration hasn’t given states enough information to decide whether they’ll implement the central feature of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) charged in a highly critical request for more guidance.

Hatch, the top Republican on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, said states can’t make well-informed decisions about whether to establish their own insurance exchanges or let the federal government step in with a fallback.

"The President promised ‘an unmatched level of transparency, participation, and accountability across the entire Administration,’ yet the details of his single policy achievement have been hidden from the public and the very people who will are [sic] required to implement the President’s idea of health reform," Hatch said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

HHS has said states have three options: set up their own exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or step back entirely while HHS establishes a "federally facilitated exchange."

The Obama administration has pushed each state to take on at least some control over its exchange, saying each state’s insurance market is different. But several Republican governors say they’re unwilling to implement "ObamaCare" by creating a state-based exchange, meaning HHS would have to step in.

HHS has released few details about the federal exchange — states aren’t sure which costs they’ll have to cover if they leave the task up to HHS, Hatch said.

"I respectfully request that the politicization by the Administration of the President’s health law end and that the transparency promised by the President be shown by offering the states a complete understanding of their choices and the cost associated with such choices," Hatch’s letter states.

It’s also unclear, he said, whether HHS will establish a separate federal exchange in each state, and how they will vary from state to state.



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