Obama extends deadline on health exchanges

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7843
  1. Edward Davies
  1. 1New York

US states will be given another month to decide whether to build health exchanges, after pleas from Republican governors around the country.

The online health insurance markets are a key part of the Obama administration’s planned healthcare changes. It is envisaged that they would enable millions more people to get health coverage, starting at the end of next year.

The health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has pushed back the deadline to 14 December for states to submit letters of intent to build the state based markets. The original deadline was today, Friday 16 November.

In a letter addressed to the governors of Virginia, Robert F McDonnell, and Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, Sebelius wrote, “While receiving a letter of intent now will help us assist states in finalizing their application, a state may submit both a letter of intent and an application to operate its own exchange by December 14.

“States may also apply to operate their exchange in partnership with the federal government by February 15, 2013. And a state may apply at any time to run an exchange in future years.

“We’re confident governors will have enough time to decide whether they want to establish an exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or have a federally facilitated exchange in their state.”

In the case of states that decide not to set up an exchange, the federal government will come in and take up the task. Many Republican governors have already decided not to set up their own insurance exchanges, including in Nebraska, South Carolina, Kansas, Alabama, and Florida.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7843