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May Exchange Board Meeting #1: Federal Partnership Options

The May 15 Exchange Board meeting was a late addition to the schedule, and was largely dedicated to the state/federal partnership option, under which California could receive federal assistance in operating its Exchange for the first few years.

Amanda Cowley, the acting director of state health exchanges at the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), presented on the federal partnership option that the CA Exchange Board is considering. Depending on what type of partnership California chooses, the state could be receiving federal help on either plan management, consumer assistance, or both. Peter Lee indicated that the board is most interested in taking on plan management themselves, while receiving help on consumer assistance; he did note that in the event of a partnership option, the state will do as much outreach and consumer assistance as possible.

Cowley emphasized that the federal government will assist in all states that require it, federal guidance on partnership exchanges will be released soon, and that a first class consumer experience is of utmost concern. Additionally, federal Exchange grants will still be available to states that initially pursue partnership models.

Many stakeholders expressed concerns on such a model, which included:

  • Will the federal consumer assistance centers be able to provide the cultural and linguistic diversity that California will need, considering the majority of subsidy-eligible Exchange participants are of color?
  • How will the federal government provide seamless coverage for those fluctuating between Exchange plans end Medi-Cal coverage?
  • Will anyone or anything fall through the cracks if eligibility and enrollment is done at the local/county level (in-person eligibility determination) as well as the federal level (website/call centers)?

After a long closed session where board members discussed contracting and implications of a federal partnership, Peter Lee provided his Executive Director’s report, which noted that the entire board strongly supported the state-based exchange, with appreciation to the federal government’s efforts in helping other states with partnership exchanges. ┬áIn addition, he announced two senior leadership appointments, Juli Baker as CTO and Michael McCluer as CFO.

Board meeting materials are available online. The next meeting will be in one week on May 22, and will discuss outreach and marketing; assisters, navigators, brokers and consumer assistance; service center options; and the SHOP exchange.

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