States still must meet the Nov. 16 deadline to inform HHS if they will build a state-based health insurance exchange, but they now have until Dec. 14 to submit a blueprint for it, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the nation's governors in a letter Friday (PDF)
The extra time is intended to give states the “appropriate technical support” they need if they are pursuing their own exchange. Meanwhile, those states interested in partnering with the federal government to operate an exchange now have until Feb. 15, 2013 to submit their declaration letter and blueprint.
“We intend to issue further guidance to assist you in the very near future,” Sebelius wrote in the letter. “Funding is now available to you not matter where you are in the process of establishing an exchange and not matter whether you plan to run your own exchange, partner with another state, or work with the federal government.”
Sebelius also reminded the governors that the next application deadline for Level 1 and Level 2 establishment grants is Nov. 15.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued a statement about the letter on Friday. “That HHS decided to delay the deadline on exchange is no surprise given the insufficient guidance and information that has been given to governors,” Hatch said in his statement. “Frankly, that the exchanges are such a mess is pretty emblematic of how flawed the president’s health law is—with states having to bear the brunt.”