Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) Funding Finding Few Friends in Congress

by Patrick Riley 25 Jul 2013
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Last year's Congress did not pass any legislation with funding for implementation of HIXs. This year, The White House has been very aggressive in cobbling together funding from other sources to attempt to get the job done. Even with this last ditch effort, funding will not be available until October 1, 2014, one year after the ACA mandate to implement HIXs. The original source for implementation of HIXs lies within the U.S. Senate's Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill. The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee has passed the HHS version which carries line item budgets for implementation of HIXs. But, before a final vote in the full Appropriation's Committee is taken and monies made available, much partisan debate will dominate any attempts to move the bill forward. Republican leadership has pledged to do everything within their power to kill the funding. Democrats are looking for bi-partisan votes and contend that the Affordable Care Act "is the law of the land" but any mutually agreed upon effort is unlikely in such a politically charged house of Congress for that to happen. The bill will provide $72.1 billion for implementation which is 2% more than the administration's HHS version of the original legislation. This new request for funding is quite possibly the most contentious issues that must be solved before the bill can advance to conference committee where a similar House bill and the Senate bill will be consolidated. As we draw closer to the October 1st deadline for implementation of HIXs, growing opposition to funding and deep concerns about the readiness of the healthcare IT infrastructure will remain paramount in the success or failure of a Herculean challenge of establishing a free-market online healthcare consumer portal for health insurance. Much to do. Very little time.
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