State's Obamacare Exchange Plans for Life Without Federal Money
The agency that runs the state's insurance marketplace under Obamacare approved a new budget Thursday, and this will be the first year that Access Health CT will operate without substantial federal support.
The idea was that the federal government would spend money to help establish exchanges in the states. Over three years, Connecticut got more than $150 million. But for the next fiscal year, it will get no new federal money. Now, it has to live by its own means. And Jim Wadleigh, who runs Access Health, said that's what this budget does.
"With today's vote, Connecticut will become the first state-based marketplace with a self-sustaining budget," Wadleigh told the agency's board. "This is a testament to all of the hard work that the staff has done over the past nine months...as we've transitioned from a pure startup company into an operating company."
So, instead of relying on federal tax dollars, the exchange will rely on what it calls an assessment. That's a percentage charged to insurance companies that sell individual and small group policies. The agency's board decided to increase that rate from 1.35 percent to 1.65 percent to maintain a healthy reserve. That's a fee that officials have said would likely be passed on to consumers. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman chairs the board.
"As we look nationwide, and we are still at the lowest assessment rate, I'd like to stay that way, but I'd like to make sure that we have a good reserve as we go forward," she said.
The exchange is also hoping to market its services to other states that have not faired as well. That could bring in some cash, too.