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Governor to Establish Health Care Exchange in Hawaii

Posted June 14, 2012, 02:21 PM HST Updated June 14, 2012, 04:05 PM HST
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie. File photo.

Hawaii is the first state to establish an insurance exchange that will provide individuals and small businesses a place to choose health insurance coverage, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday.

State officials said that the exchange being created – to be known as the Hawaii Health Connector – will meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

That federal law, also known as “Obamacare,” calls for states to establish the insurance exchanges by 2014, when the act goes into effect.

“By Jan. 1, 2014, Hawaii will have a marketplace that will provide a level playing field for individuals and small businesses to access affordable health insurance,” Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said in a statement.

Coral Andrews, a retired US Navy captain and nurse, and past vice president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, has been named executive director of Hawaii Health Connector.

“We’re very focused on establishing the exchange as state-based, ensuring that the connector is of Hawaii and for Hawaii,” she said.

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The connector must be approved the US Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

The future of Obamacare remains uncertain, however. Court challenges to the law are now before the US Supreme Court.

Forbes magazine reported today that according to the market research company Intrade, there is a 69.9% chance that the court will strike down at least the individual mandate portion of the law. That is the part of the law that would require almost everyone to buy health insurance.

However, former labor secretary Robert Reich argues in today’s edition of the Christian Science Monitor that while some analysts believe that would spell the end of Obamacare, he believes it would prompt calls to amend the act to remove the requirement to insure people with pre-existing medical conditions.

But that clause is so popular with the public that it likely would force Congress to let “insurers off the hook” for pre-existing conditions only by allowing Americans to choose Medicare or something similar, Reich said.

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