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      Nebraska to Participate in Federal Health Exchange

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      Gov. Dave Heineman submitted Nebraska's decision to participate in the federal health insurance exchange Thursday, citing the extreme costdifferential that ultimately the Nebraska taxpayer would have to incur.

      "I want to share with Nebraskansthat I have listened to all sides of this issue," said Gov. Heineman. "As governor, my focus is on implementing the federal health care law in the mostefficient and cost effective manner for Nebraskans and their families."

      Whether a state runs their own healthexchange, or uses the one provided by the federal government, all citizens will have theoption to purchase insurance policies through an exchange.

      Heineman says that his decision ultimately came down to what is best for Nebraska's hard-working,middle class taxpayers.

      Fiscal analysis of budgetimpacts done by the Department of Insurance and the Department of Health andHuman Services calculate the cost of a state insurance exchange for FiscalYears 2013-2020 at $646 million; while the cost of a federal insurance exchangeis $176 million. That means Nebraskan's would have to find an extra $470 million to cover the cost of a state exchange.

      The analysis includes costsassociated with building, managing and maintaining a state-based exchange; including, but not limited to: website development, call centeroperations, an insurance premium billing system, staffing, equipment, supplies,office space, and the technology costs related to each of these functions. Inaddition, these costs include expenses necessary for the health exchange to work togetherwith the Medicaid program, in accordance with requirements of the federal law.

      "The reality is that the federalhealth care law is being totally dictated and totally controlled by the federalgovernment," added Heineman. "On the key issues, there is no realoperational difference between a federal exchange and a state exchange. A stateexchange is nothing more than the state administering the Affordable Care Actwith all of the important and critical decisions made by the federalgovernment."

      The Affordable Care Act callsfor the creation of health insurance exchanges, state-run or federal-runmarkets where households and small businesses can shop for private coverage.

      Governors have until Nov. 16 to announce their intent to establish astate-based exchange. If a state does not elect to run a state-based exchange,then the health exchange will be implemented by the federal government.

      According to the federal law,open enrollment is scheduled to begin for health exchange plans Oct. 1, 2013.Any exchange is expected to be fully operational on Jan. 1, 2014.

      Courtesy- Gov. Heineman's Office

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