Last week I was at a meeting where we were joined by Joel Ario, the HHS official who is overseeing implementation of the new Health
Insurance Exchanges, the vehicle that is expected to provide coverage for close to 30 million Americans in
2014. We had a chance to ask him
questions and hear from him on key ways state advocates could participate in
the conversations happening in their states around establishing exchanges. He reminded us that the Exchange Planning Grants (48 of 50 states were awarded
one) had to include a plan that included holding meetings with stakeholders – a key component of what
they were going to be evaluated on by HHS.
In many states these meetings are happening now and it’s
important for those representing the interests of children and families to participate so they can be seen
and heard in this process. You can find out about these meetings in a couple of
places. The plan for the meetings should be included in the Exchange Planning
Grant proposals that were submitted to HHS. In addition, it’s likely that
information is available somewhere on the website for the agency overseeing the Exchange
implementation – either the Governor’s Office, the Insurance Commissioner’s
Office or the Medicaid agency.
I have heard from at least one state that they’ve had
difficulty finding out not only when these meetings are, but also getting hold
of the state’s exchange planning grant. Five states have their exchange
planning grants posted on NASHP’s State Refor(u)m. But beyond that, Mr. Ario
suggested that if you are having difficulty, it’s worth reminding those in
these key state agencies that HHS will be evaluating them on how they solicit
stakeholder input – something that’s difficult to demonstrate if stakeholders
can’t find out when and where these meetings are taking place.