- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas officials say they want the state to take responsibility for its health insurance exchange for individuals but continue enrolling them in coverage through the federal system’s mechanisms.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s spokesman J.R. Davis told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/25zDMWv ) that having its own exchange would allow the state to decrease the fees paid by insurers that offer plans on the exchange.

“In order to align with our health reform efforts, I have determined the best course of action is to have the Arkansas individual exchange model be a State-based Exchange on the Federal Platform effective Plan Year 2017,” Hutchinson said in letter.

If the governor’s request is granted, Arkansas would become one of 13 states that are considered to have state-run exchanges for individuals. Washington, D.C., also has its own exchange.

The insurers currently pay the federal government 3.5 percent of the premiums they collect for the plans. The federal government will stop charging the fee if the state takes over responsibility for the exchange.

Instead, Arkansas would pay the federal government a fee equal to 1.5 percent of the companies’ premiums starting next year. Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, a nonprofit agency created by the state Legislature, would charge an undetermined fee to insurers to pay that fee and other costs.

Davis said the governor still doesn’t want the state to set up and operate its own electronic enrollment system.

Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, and chairman of a legislative committee that monitors the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, has previously said Arkansas would have more flexibility in making changes to health care programs such as Medicaid if it sets up its own exchange, including its own electronic enrollment system.

“It still keeps options open in the state,” Sanders said. “We may look ahead a year from now and have completely different options in terms of what a state can do.”


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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