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    Under Barack Obama's new health care law, each state is required to decide whether or not to operate its own insurance exchange system. If a state chooses to not set up their own system for an exchange, then the job is handed over to the federal government. These exchanges can be compared to websites like "Orbitz." People will be able to compares prices and the quality of different plans easily through these exchanges. Proponents say these exchanges will also lower costs of plans due to an increased competition among private insurance plans. November 16 was the deadline for the states to declare their intentions of providing their own state exchange, but now states have until December 14 to submit blueprints for their actual designs. States that are going to put in place a "partnership exchange," or who will share the responsibility of the exchange with the federal government, have until February 15 to turn in their blueprints. .
    Unfortunately, creating these exchanges is not a simple task. In order for these exchanges to work properly, states must be able to figure out how much an individual earns. This federal database that will allow states to find that kind of information does not yet exist. The federal government has contracted with the healthcare ITT firm QSSI to build this database. It will be available for all the exchanges to access (state set up and federal government set up). Even though this database may be finalized, that does not mean that every state will be able to use it. Some states may have old computer systems which would make it impossible for them to use it due to compatibility issues. These exchanges will also put a huge burden on the states, because they will have to set up customer service centers. Health insurance is complicated to purchase and customer-support service will be vital in order to make these exchanges successful especially when the first open enrollment period starts in October 2013. Each state has to decide whether to do this whole process themselves, to collaborate with the federal government, or to leave it all for the federal government to handle. Some say if many states leave everything up to the federal government to put in place, it may become too much work for the Obama Administration. Currently in Michigan, Governor Snyder favors a state-run operation. Senate Republicans have agreed, while House Republicans are opposing this idea. Since then, Snyder has been working on designing a "partnership" exchange where the federal government would largely control the exchange with a limited role for Michigan. The state would certify health plans and handle some customer-service functions while the federal government would run everything else. State officials had been preparing to notify the federal government by Friday, November 16, which was the deadline to notify the federal government that Michigan was going to do a state-based exchange. Currently, the Obama Administration has given Michigan an extension of 4 weeks in order to create their own blueprints of exchange.

    Sources:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/12/is-obamacare-too-much-work-for-the-obama-administration/
    http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/gov_rick_snyder_moves_toward_f.html
    http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/michigan_health_insurance_exch.html

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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