On June 19, 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the findings of its studies regarding CMS’s progress in establishing the federally facilitated exchanges (FFE) and Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOP) mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). GAO-13-601 reports on the current status of FFE establishment, while GAO-13-614 covers the current status of SHOPs.

Currently, CMS is responsible for operating FFEs in 34 states and SHOPs in 33 states. Tasks still remaining on CMS’s to-do list include final testing of a consumer-eligibility data hub, certification of the qualified health plans that will be offered through the exchanges, and funding awards for Navigators, a program that will assist consumers in understanding and enrolling in the exchanges. The ACA requires that enrollment through FFEs and SHOPs begin on October 1, 2013, with a health care coverage effective date of January 1, 2014. HHS responded to the drafts of the reports by emphasizing the progress it has made thus far and its confidence that all exchanges will be fully operational by October 1, 2013.