States welcome fed help picking health exchange IT

The National Governors Association (NGA) this week recommended that the federal government provide states assistance in picking IT  products and services for building state health insurance exchanges, systems designed to help people shop for health insurance on the open market. 

The creation of state health insurance exchanges was called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as a way to offer people without health insurance a way to shop for and enroll in health insurance plans available in their regions.  

The exchanges also were seen as a way to promote price competition among health insurance carriers by offering consumers standard ways of comparing features across various plans using Web-based electronic benefits calculators and plan navigators.

Considering the complexity of the projects, states were offered options on how to launch the exchanges, including partnering with the federal government to build them. 

In comments filed Nov. 2, NGA said federal help in “pre-certifying and identifying information technology products and services … could facilitate some states’ efforts to design information technology systems necessary to operate an exchange."  

Federal development of software that could be provided to states, such as a benefit calculator, “would be very helpful,” NGA said. 

States opting out of a federal partnership model will offer their own unique state-run health information exchanges “and will not want to rely on the federal government for any aspect of its functionality,” NGA said. 

About the Author

Paul McCloskey is senior editor of GCN. A former editor-in-chief of both GCN and FCW, McCloskey was part of Federal Computer Week's founding editorial staff.


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