Wyoming misses health care exchange deadline
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
December 15, 2012
The federal government will run a health insurance exchange for Wyoming beginning in 2014, but maybe not for long.
The deadline for states to decide whether they would operate their own exchanges passed Friday. It had already been extended from Nov. 16.
Wyoming officials have said they are interested in exploring the idea of a health exchange, but they also said they have lingering questions.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires states to have exchanges — virtual marketplaces where consumers can buy insurance. Under the law, states can create their own, but if they don’t, the federal government will do it for them.
Gov. Matt Mead has said he still has questions but is open to creating an exchange in the future.
Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said the governor has said he would prefer a state-run exchange, but “at this time, there’s not enough information to make it clear what the best exchange option is,” MacKay said.
Still, states can choose to create and run their own exchanges at any time after 2014, he said.
Mead set aside $100,000 in the state budget to study how an exchange could work for Wyoming.
A bill that would have required more examination of a state-run exchange failed in the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee yesterday, Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, said.
The bill would have created a special committee to investigate the issue, he said.
“It would allow us to continue to pursue it in some form or fashion,” Dockstader said.
The bill could be reintroduced at a later date.
Dockstader said Wyoming’s situation is unique.
“Our population is so small, it’s tough to make something like this work,” Dockstader said.
But, he said, he supports looking into ways the state could partner with others in an exchange.