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Gregoire praises HHS assistance to establish Affordable Insurance Exchange

For Immediate Release: July 11, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire today praised the federal government’s release of proposed rules to offer flexibility to states as they develop Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Gregoire requested the legislation that created Washington state’s exchange, SSB 5445, and signed it into law March 11, 2011.

“We are building our Affordable Insurance Exchange, and today’s guidance will help us make sure it works for consumers, patients and businesses,” Gregoire said. “The proposed rules would provide states flexibility and a framework to set minimum standards within the exchange.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the proposed rules released on Monday, July 11, 2011, offered states guidance and options on how to structure their exchanges in two key areas:
• Setting standards for establishing exchanges, setting up a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), performing the basic functions of an exchange, and certifying health plans for participation in the exchange; and
• Ensuring premium stability for plans and enrollees in the exchange, especially in the early years as new people come in to exchanges to shop for health insurance.
Washington state’s exchange will give individuals and small businesses a range of affordable options for health coverage. With the exchange in place, individuals and small businesses will possess the collective clout and purchasing power that big businesses and major employers have in the insurance market.

Gregoire concluded: “I am pleased Secretary Sebelius offered states the opportunity to discuss the proposed guidance before the draft rules were issued. Once again, it shows the importance the federal government places on feedback and input from the states as both work in partnership to fully implement the Affordable Care Act.”

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