Elected officials in Tennessee may have to decide next spring whether the state will run its own insurance exchange. Many pieces of the healthcare overhaul are still in the air, but next summer is a deadline to get federal money if the state opts to set up such an exchange.
Two factors are frustrating the state’s timeline to decide: Federal details on a prospective exchange are slow in coming, and it may well be next summer before the Supreme Court decides whether the insurance mandate stands.
In the meantime, this month Tennessee’s Insurance Exchange Planning Initiative will offer a framework of how an exchange might look. That early sketch is meant to give stakeholders something to weigh in on, says director Brian Haile, in part because it won’t be perfect.
“We have very limited information both about what the rules will require of us and about what the market response will be. And I think what we’re trying to do is enter this with a tremendous amount of humility based on those limitations and say ‘let’s put something together that reflects our best thinking to date, know that it’s imperfect, and invite lots of public feedback.’”
Haile says the planning initiative will offer a recommendation to Governor Haslam by the end of this year. Depending what Haslam wants to do, he may need new laws from the legislature, which starts back up in January, and doesn’t have to comply.
Haile didn’t want to speculate about possible political wrangling over an exchange. But for Haslam and the lawmakers next spring, taking a wait-and-see approach might not be an option.