State Begins Process of Shaping Health Care Exchange Plans

Representatives from advocacy groups such as the Tennessee Disablility Coalition make their case for coverage to a panel of Tennessee officials.

Now that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld, Tennessee is rushing to create an insurance exchange. It would be a way for those without coverage through their job to get reasonably priced insurance. On Tuesday, state officials started taking input on what those plans should include, like treatment for Multiple Sclerosis and drug addiction.

Representatives of advocacy groups filled a Vanderbilt lecture hall to ask that their respective cause be covered. Many share a concern about hearing aids. Insurance companies were required to cover them in Tennessee starting this year. But there’s uncertainty as to whether that would apply to the state exchange plans.

Tonya Bowman has an 11-year-old daughter with hearing loss in both ears.

“Her hearing aids are covered, so it’s a hope that that would be the way for all children because it’s been beneficial for her education.”

Public input will be taken over the next three weeks, and state officials say all suggestions will be considered.

Caryn Tamber-Rosenau wants coverage for infertility treatments.

“We are transplants from the northeast, and this is not a family-friendly state for us.”

The Department and Commerce and Insurance will make a recommendation to Governor Bill Haslam. The exchange is slated be up and running in 2014.

NFIB Participation

The Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is weighing how involved it wants to be in the creation of a state insurance exchange. The NFIB joined 26 states in challenging the federal health care law. But some of its members may end up using the exchange.

NFIB state director Jim Brown says some of his 8,500 members in Tennessee calculate it will be cheaper for them to just pay a penalty and let employees use the exchange. So he’s asking employers how involved they want to be in setting standards for the exchange.

“You know, it’s a choice between bad and worse, probably when you get down to it. And which direction do they want us to go.”</strong

Brown attended the first public forum. The next input sessions are scheduled for July 31 in East Tennessee.

Comments can also be submitted online before August 10th to pubcomm.hrf@tn.gov.

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