On Friday, November 9, 2012, HHS Secretary Sebelius extended the deadline for states wishing to enact their own health insurance exchanges.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states have the option to implement their own health insurance exchanges.  If a state fails to do so, the federal government will step in to create a federal exchange.

States who intend to operate their own Exchanges will still have to notify HHS by Friday, November 16th.  However, they have until Friday, December 14th to submit their Exchange blueprint application to HHS.  HHS intends to approve the State-based Exchanges by the ACA deadline of January 1, 2013.  States who decide to implement a State-Federal Partnership Exchange have until February 15, 2013 in which to submit their Declaration Letters and Blueprint applications.

In March 2012, HHS issued a final rule on state exchanges focused on minimum standards states, employers and insurers must meet to operate an exchange.  However, HHS has not yet released rules that address essential health benefit requirements or rules on actuarial value and accreditation.   Last week, HHS sent a proposed rule on these issues to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for their review before release for comment.