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Medicaid takes the lead in creation of Health Exchange
Delaware's Medicaid agency has been designated as the lead agency for the purpose of administering federal funds for planning the state's health benefit exchange, reports Rita M. Landgraf, secretary of the state's Department of Health and Social Services.
"Because Medicaid is a public insurance carrier and our mandate is to integrate Medicaid with the private commercial market as part of the exchange, Delaware felt it seemed appropriate to have our Medicaid office apply for the $1 million grant to help create the exchange," says Ms. Landgraf.
Ms. Landgraf explains that the process will be a collaborative effort among several agencies, including the Division of Social Services, the Department of Technology and Information, and the Delaware Health Care Commission.
"We have developed a partnership with our Department of Insurance to collaboratively address planning issues," she adds. "As part of the planning process, we plan to host forums, roundtables, and focus groups with a variety of stakeholders."
These will include small business, private insurance carriers, brokers, and agents, says Ms. Landgraf, to provide input into the structure of the health insurance exchanges. "Delaware recognizes the significant scope of the health benefit exchanges, and potential impacts for various sectors in the state," she says. "Consequently, our goal is to widely involve key stakeholders in the planning process."
More accessible care
A Health Care Reform Steering Committee was formed under Ms. Landgraf's direction. This group includes representation from the governor's office, the Department of Health and Social Service, the Department of Insurance, The Department of Technology and Information, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Division of Revenue, she says.
"In addition, we have engaged the Delaware Health Care Commission as a vehicle for public exchange of information," says Ms. Landgraf. "We are currently involved in an environmental scan to assess the health insurance market and key demographics in the state."
Ms. Landgraf says that the biggest challenge with the health benefit exchange is probably the sheer magnitude of work that must be completed in a relatively short period of time.
"A variety of tasks must be completed, including legislative and regulatory changes, policy development, technology changes, training and education," says Ms. Landgraf. "In many cases, these activities are sequential in nature. It will be a challenge to have everything in place by January of 2014."
Ms. Landgraf says that ultimately, health care coverage will be expanded for many low- and moderate-income individuals and families. "We foresee a more seamless, transparent, and understandable health care system that is more accessible to consumers," she says.
Contact Ms. Landgraf at (302) 255-9040 or Rita.Landgraf@state.de.us.