"A Tick-Tock Situation"

The California Health Benefit Exchange Board of Directors met again today, just one week after the last meeting, a reflection of how quickly the Exchange is having to move to be ready for 2014.  Government Relations Director David Panush said “we’re moving fast because we have to” and quoted board member Kim Belshe in calling this “a tick-tock situation”.

The Board was initially working toward a submission of a Level 2 Exchange Planning Grant on June 29 to request funds from the federal government for the next stage of implementation.  However, the Board decided that applying for a second Level 1 grant in the same time frame affords them more flexibility.  After that grant application is submitted, the Board will be working toward submitting a “blueprint” of the Exchange that is due to the federal government September 14, 2012.

To that end, an aggressive work plan lays ahead of the Exchange’s board and growing staff.

June 12 Meeting
Discussions: SHOP Exchange
                   Consumer Outreach Focus Groups
                   Service Center Options
                   Consumer Assistance/Ombudsman
                   Draft Level 1 Grant
                   Announcement of CalHEERS Vendor
Decisions:    Outreach and Marketing Plan
                   Scope, Policies, and Budget of Assisters, Navigators, Brokers

June 19 Meeting
Discussions: Qualified Health Plans
                   Cost Sharing
Decisions:    SHOP Exchange
                   Level 1 Grant

July 19 Meeting
Discussions: Qualified Health Plans & Benefit Design
                   Assister and Navigators Training and Oversight
Decisions:    Consumer Assistance/Ombudsman
                   Assisters and Navigators
                   Service Centers

August 23 Meetings
Decisions:  Qualified Health Plans Benefit Design and Policies
                 Assisters and Navigators Training and Oversight
                 Stakeholder Engagement Processes

September 18
                  Health Plan Solicitation

Today’s meeting included in-depth discussions of the draft Outreach and Marketing plan presented by Ogilvy, and the draft recommendations on Navigators and Assisters presented by Heath and Associates.

The draft Marketing and Outreach plan appropriately catered to the diverse needs of Californians, and many present in the audience recognized the consultants’ work on the plan.  One component of the plan includes grant programs to engage community based groups, who are already trusted messengers, in helping with the outreach for the Exchange.  Many stakeholders were very supportive of this idea.  The plan is posted on the Exchange website (direct link here) and written comments will be accepted until May 31.

The Navigators and Assisters proposal from Health and Associates was a bit more controversial.  It is likely that many people will require in-person assistance navigating the Exchange and other new coverage options starting in 2012.  Some estimates suggest that up to 75% of these individuals will need in-person assistance. The Board heard comments expressing varying perspectives on who should be compensated for providing that help.  Many entities that the consultants do not recommend compensating for that service testified why they should get paid, but advocates warn that providing payments to those who directly benefit from enrolling people may create a financial incentive for steering.  The proposal is also available on the Exchange website (direct link here) and comments will also be accepted until May 31.

The Exchange Board is moving quickly to make decisions and get the Exchange up and running.  For those who have yet to weigh in on any of the topics discussed today or on future agendas, do not delay in submitting those comments to the Exchange.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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