The Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission has presented its report and recommendations regarding the establishment of a health insurance exchange in Alabama. Governor Robert Bentley established the Commission by executive order in June to study and make high-level recommendations concerning the establishment of an online insurance exchange where consumers may purchase health insurance products.
"This Commission has done a great deal of work in a very short amount time," said Governor Bentley. "As I have said many times, my vision for an Alabama health insurance exchange existed before any federal health care reform effort began. An Alabama health insurance exchange specifically tailored to the needs of Alabamians should ensure that our citizens have numerous options when shopping for health insurance coverage."
By 2014, states must be ready to implement the major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including the establishment of a health insurance exchange to provide an online market place to evaluate health insurance options and apply for coverage. States that do not establish their own health insurance exchange will have a federal health insurance exchange imposed upon them by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Commission held four meetings plus one educational session to review specific options related to the structure and governance of an Alabama insurance exchange and the specific functions and associated costs for operating and sustaining the exchange. State Senator Greg Reed and State Representative Jim McClendon, who chair the Senate and House Health Committees, respectively, served as Co-Chairmen of the Commission.
"It was an honor to serve with this group of distinguished Alabamians who are very interested in the future of healthcare in our state," said State Senator Greg Reed. "Governor Bentley asked for a blueprint for the future of health care and these men and women tirelessly gave of their time to comply with his request."
State Representative Jim McClendon echoed Senator Reed's statement adding, "I want to thank the governor for having the confidence in Senator Greg Reed and myself to lead this important task. With the participation of an impressive panel of health care professionals, as well as consumer representation, we have hammered out a significant document. This group worked diligently and at a rapid clip to fulfill the governor's request and did so in a timely manner."
The Commission's recommendations will be evaluated as legislation establishing an Alabama health insurance exchange is formulated for introduction during the 2012 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature.
The Commission made the following recommendations pertaining to the establishment of an Alabama health insurance exchange:
* That the State of Alabama should establish its own health insurance exchange;
* That the Alabama health insurance exchange use a free market facilitator model;
* That the State establish one administrative entity to oversee both the small business and individual exchanges;
* That an Alabama health insurance exchange be named the "Alabama Health Insurance Marketplace;"
* That the State should establish a new quasi-public authority to operate its exchange;
* That the following representatives should be considered for inclusion as voting or advisory members on the governing board of the insurance exchange:
* Alabama Department of Insurance;
* Alabama Medicaid Agency;
* Alabama Department of Public Health;
* Non-profit insurer;
* For-profit insurer;
* Insurance brokers and individual agents;
* Small business;
* Large business;
* Subject matter experts including actuaries, accountants, and information technology;
* That the small business and individual risk pools remain separate;
* That the definition of "small employer" as it currently exists under Alabama law (employers with between 2 and 50 employees) be kept until 2016 when the definition is required to change under PPACA to include employers with up to 100 employees; and
* That the Alabama insurance exchange be funded through assessments on all products sold in the small group and individual markets in Alabama, including those sold inside and outside an exchange.