WASHINGTON States received an extra month from the Obama administration to decide whether to build online marketplaces for medical insurance after Republican governors pressed their resistance to the president’s health-care law.
Extending a deadline set for Friday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said states can wait until Dec. 14 to declare whether they’ll build their own insurance exchanges. States that opt out can join a partnership with the federal government or let the U.S. run the markets.
About 9 million Americans are expected to enroll in exchange plans in 2014, rising to 26 million by 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Ahead of the original deadline, a check by The Associated Press found that 21 states plus the District of Columbia have already indicated they want to become involved, either by building and running their own exchanges or partnering with Washington. The 16 that want to build their own exchanges, plus the District of Columbia, face a Jan. 1 deadline for the federal government to approve their plans.
This group of 16 includes mainly Democratic-led states such as California and New York, but also some Republican-led ones such as Mississippi and New Mexico.
Five other states have signaled they want to partner with the federal government. Those states would handle consumer issues and oversight of health plans in the exchanges, while the feds do the heavy lifting by enrolling individuals for coverage and determining who’s eligible for government assistance. Among these states are Arkansas and North Carolina.
The number of partnership states could grow significantly, since the Obama administration has given states until next February to decide on that option. As of Thursday, 16 states indicated that they were weighing their options and have not made a final decision.
Information for this article was contributed by Bloomberg News and The Associated Press.