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Catania Successfully Steers Health Insurance Exchange Legislation through First Reading | Health

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Catania Successfully Steers Health Insurance Exchange Legislation through First Reading
Health, Politics


From Brendan Williams-Kief:

Today, Councilmember David A. Catania (At-Large) successfully steered B19-002 the “Health Insurance Exchange Authorizing Act of 2011” through its first reading.  A centerpiece of President Obama’s Health Care Reform legislation is the requirement that each state establish a health benefit exchange, a transparent marketplace for both individuals and small business to purchase health insurance policies. These exchanges reduce costs, increase transparency, and make insurance policies more understandable.

             “Today’s legislation is a product of collaboration with the Mayor’s office and contains provisions to ensure the timely and effective operation of the Authority,” said Councilmember Catania.  “With only 13 months left before our exchanges must be certified as operationally ready, we must continue the work of implementing the program or risk federal control of our local health exchange.”

            The Act, as approved by the Committee on Health, enjoys broad support from a variety of health and consumer groups.  More than a dozen such groups signed on to a letter urging the Council to approve the bill as marked up by the Committee on Health.  The signatories to that letter (attached) are:

 Families USA

AARP District of Columbia

American Heart and Stroke Association- Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

DC Fiscal Policy Institute

District of Columbia Primary Care Association 2

Family Voices of the District of Columbia, Inc.

Hemophilia Association of the Capital Area

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Lupus Foundation of America, DC/MD/VA Chapter

National Kidney Foundation Serving the National Capital Area

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter

South Atlantic Division, American Cancer Society, Inc.

The Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work


The “Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011” would authorize the creation of a District of Columbia health benefit exchange as an independent District entity.  The exchange, as an independent authority, would be governed by an 11 member executive board with 7 voting members and 4 non-voting ex-officio members.   Appointed by the Mayor and with Council approval, these members would be required to abide by the bill’s strict conflict of interest provisions that prohibit members of board from being employed by insurance carriers or brokers. The legislation also includes a revolving door provision that prohibits executive board members and staff members of the independent authority from being employed by a health carrier within one year of separation from the authority.

             Today’s legislation included technical changes, developed in coordination with the Mayor’s office, the Department of Health Care Finance, the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, and the office of the Council Chair, to protect the health exchange authority’s ability to establish the exchanges by the federally imposed deadlines, clarifies the responsibility of the Authority to conduct eligibility determinations for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, and also adds language that expands the pool of expertise by making individuals with demonstrated knowledge of public health programs and health benefit plan enrollment eligible for service on the executive board.

            Following today’s successful vote at first reading, the bill heads for its second reading at an upcoming legislative session of the Council. 

Health, Politics