The Countdown until October

On June 19, 2013, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released two reports, Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges and Status of Federal and State Efforts to Establish Health Insurance Exchanges for Small Businesses, that collectively cast doubt on whether the health insurance exchanges (the “exchanges”) will be successfully implemented by October 2013.

In the reports, the GAO stated that, although much progress towards implementation of the exchanges has been made, much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time. Similarly, the reports noted that interim deadlines have been missed, which may be troublesome if additional deadlines are missed closer to the start of enrollment. For example, in the report regarding the establishment of exchanges for small businesses, the GAO noted that about 44 percent of the key activities that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) targeted for completion by March 31, 2013, were behind schedule.

The GAO concluded in both reports that whether the exchanges will be successfully implemented by October 2013 cannot yet be determined.

In response to drafts of the reports, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) emphasized the progress that has been made in establishing the exchanges.  HHS also expressed confidence that the exchanges will be open and functioning by October 1, 2013.

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