On June 13 the Health Benefit Exchange Board met at SeaTac for its monthly meeting and confronted several tough issues. Faced with a HBE staff recommendation that the Board delay for at least a year any discussion on limiting or standardizing the qualified health insurance plans to be offered when the Exchange becomes operational in 2014, citizen action groups raised another issue.
Two board members and, in public testimony, representatives from the Healthy Washington Coalition, expressed frustration that they were not sufficiently involved in the HBE Work Group that is developing the Qualified Health Plan criteria that will be required of plans sold through the exchange. They want to see several of these criteria strengthened beyond the minimum required under the federal health care reform law.
Given that similar concerns had been raised at other HBE committee meetings earlier in the week, HBE staff explained that they would be creating a new consumer committee and providing for individual review of the key QHP criteria by both the HBE Advisory Committee and Policy Committee. With that the Board voted to accept the process for development of the QHP criteria.
The Board also established the membership for three other Technical Advisory Committees — Dental, Navigator, and Broker committees.
In other action the Board agreed, subject to a number of conditions, to tentatively direct the Exchange to include aggregation of premiums in the individual health insurance market as part of their services. Federal law already requires the Exchange to aggregate premiums for employer small group plans.
The Exchange is the state centerpiece of federal health care reform where small businesses and individuals will be able to able to buy insurance and determine if they qualify for subsidies. Further information can be found at http://www.hca.wa.gov/hcr/exchange .