Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, each state must either create its own health care exchange or opt into the federal program. Health care exchanges are intended to provide individuals and small businesses information on health care insurance and options for buying insurance.
On November 9, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to state governors informing them that they had an extra month to make the decision on whether they wanted to opt for a federal or state exchange. The new deadline to submit a blueprint for a state exchange is now December 14, 2012. The Department of Health and Human Services then has until January 1, 2013, to certify states’ plans to run their own exchanges. States opting for a partnership with the federal government have until February 14, 2013 to enter into a partnership.
Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have opted to run their own exchanges. Seven states remain undecided—Arizona, Idaho, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The remaining states have indicated their plans to partner with the federal government.