California is moving forward toward establishing a health insurance exchange to be in compliance with the federal health reform law.
The state Senate has passed two bills that provide the mechanisms and functions of the exchange. One bill, which is awaiting the governor's signature, sets up an Internet-based exchange where consumers could compare participating insurance plans. A state-appointed five-member board would operate the exchange.
The second bill, which now heads back to the Assembly for approval, outlines the role of the exchange. This bill also creates a California Health Trust Fund to finance the exchange. Both bills passed along party lines, with Republicans opposing.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that state-based exchanges—where individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage—be up and running by Jan. 1, 2014. The exchanges can be administered either by governmental agencies or not-for-profit groups.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he would sign the bills, but in April he threw his support behind health reform, announcing that he would “work with the federal government to get this done.”