Iowa health insurance exchange gets 'conditional' federal approval

Action depends on Iowa's ability to follow through, remain compliant with federal regulations

Iowa’s plan for a state-federal partnership health insurance exchange has received conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the approval is contingent on Iowa’s ability to perform the activities described in the Exchange Blueprint Application it submitted on Feb. 14 and the state’s compliance with the regulations and progress milestones set by federal agencies.

The exchange blueprint spells out that Iowa will continue to regulate insurance plans and that the state will retain plan management in a state-federal partnership exchange. Under the arrangement, the Iowa Insurance Division will maintain oversight of companies participating in the exchange and the qualified health plans they offer within the division’s jurisdiction and authority.

Iowa also reserves the determination of Medicaid and CHIP program eligibility. Iowans will be able to obtain subsidized health insurance coverage from the exchange that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

In a letter to Gov. Terry Branstad notifying him of the conditional plan approval, Sebelius said she recognizes  Iowa is working under intense timelines in coming months as the implementation of the plan proceeds.

"We and other agencies, especially the Department of Human Services, have been working on this for some time, in anticipation of this approval, so we are pleased to see it arrive," said Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart. "There is a lot to do, but the implementation process is receiving our full attention as we work to bring the plan to reality."

The Iowa Blueprint Package can be viewed on the Iowa Insurance Division’s Web site, at

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