Over the past fourteen months, a bipartisan group of seventeen states has been working with the White House to help build a foundation for the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post reports.
Backed by $3 million in funding from eight foundations, including the California HealthCare Foundation, which organized the effort, the group includes some of the law's staunchest supporters as well as a handful of its bigger detractors. On Friday, the group announced the release of Enroll UX2014, created to help consumers navigate the health insurance exchanges that each state is required to have in operation by 2014.
While many Republican-governed states have slowed or stopped work on implementing a health insurance exchange until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the legislation, many officials acknowledge that if the law is upheld their states will want to run their own exchanges. Indeed, several health policy experts consider the exchanges to be the backbone of the legislation. If a state does not have an exchange framework in place by 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will do the job for them.
CHCF launched the Enroll UX2014 effort in early 2011, with eleven states participating initially and six coming on board later as word got out. Enroll UX2014 includes New York and Washington, which have embraced ACA, and Republican-governed states such as Kansas, New Mexico, Alabama, and Tennessee.
While there is still much work to be done at the state level — for example, building technology that can verify an individual's income and calculate any available subsidies — state officials told the Post that outsourcing the consumer interface component may have saved months of work. "It saves our staff a ton of time not having to come up with this in advance," said Richard Fiore, executive director of the health insurance exchange in Alabama, one of the twenty-six states challenging ACA in the Supreme Court. "We do know where the deadlines are as the law currently stands," he added. "And we do know, by being part of this project, that we're working toward meeting them."