On Wednesday, California officials disclosed plans to spend nearly $90 million next year on marketing and outreach efforts for the state health benefit exchange, the Los Angeles Times reports. Observers say that the move is in response to the re-election of President Obama.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- Obama's GOP challenger in the election -- had vowed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which established the state exchanges.
Peter Lee -- executive director of the California Health Benefit Exchange, renamed Covered California -- said, "The election removes what was really the last distraction from focusing on the job, which is to get millions of Californians enrolled in health coverage" (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 11/7).
The ACA requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014. California's exchange primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
About 4.4 million Californians are expected to use the exchange by the end of 2016. Officials plan to open registration for the exchange in October 2013 (California Healthline, 11/1).
Next week, the exchange board likely will finalize its plans for marketing and enrollment ahead of a Nov. 16 federal deadline (Los Angeles Times, 11/7).
Officials also are working to finalize a federal grant proposal that will seek continued funding for exchange preparation until its 2014 launch (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/7).
Insurers Prepare for Exchange Launch
Meanwhile, health insurers also are preparing for the launch of the exchange by:
- Building networks of health care providers;
- Negotiating rates; and
- Designing various health plans that comply with the exchange's benefit requirements.
Paul Markovich -- president of Blue Shield of California -- said, "There are lots of details to sort out, and we don't have all that much time" (Los Angeles Times