Last week, the Insurance Department of the State of Kansas held a three-hour hearing to collect public input on what should constitute the state's essential health benefits benchmark plan under the ACA. No, Gov. Brownback did not attend. But some of the staff of Insurance Commission Sandy Praeger was present as were a number of interested parties. I did not attend but was struck by the number of providers who submitted written testimony or asked to speak.
What's at stake? A great deal, apparently.
Under the ACA, the states may choose to participate in the creation of the models or templates for minimum essential benefits to be offered through their state exchanges or the federal government will perform this function for them. Each state has until September 30th to indicate what their benchmark plan recommendations are, though there are rumors of some give on that date.
A number of states have been busy benchmarking existing coverage in their states and developing recommendations on minimum essential benefits. This is because they believe health insurance markets are best understood on a local level and health insurance infrastructure is best crafted on a local level.
If you're interested in seeing the work being done on this in other states, you could look here (scroll down to the spreadsheet, about half way down the page):
States have some leeway in designing their core benefits plans, though they must meet certain federal guidelines and benchmark off of certain popular basic insurance plans found in the state. For Kansas, this would likely mean looking at a basic health insurance plan significantly richer than its current Medicaid benefit. That may be the rub.