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California Members of Congress Applaud First State Law Creating New Health Insurance Marketplace

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 -- The House Energy & Commerce Committee issued the following news release:

Three California members of Congress, chairs responsible for health policy in the U.S. House of Representatives, applauded California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature of legislation yesterday to create a new health insurance marketplace. California is the first state to begin implementation of a key element of historic health reform enacted in March.

The California Health Benefit Exchange will help individuals and employees of small businesses compare and purchase health insurance plans in a transparent marketplace at competitive prices.

"California families and small businesses are being crushed by health costs and dwindling benefits," said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. "The health exchange law signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger will ensure that insurance companies compete in an open and transparent marketplace, putting consumers in the driver's seat, thereby driving down costs and making coverage more predictable."

"I commend Governor Schwarzenegger for signing this critically needed legislation, which will create an exchange that will fight hard on behalf of consumers to keep premiums affordable and to help people get the tax credits they need," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "It is a strong marker for other states to follow as they prepare for major improvements in health insurance in 2014."

"California is once again leading the way on health care with the creation of a strong health insurance exchange that leverages the purchasing power of millions of consumers," said Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. "This exchange will give everyone a set of clear, more affordable choices for health care, and provide a great example for other states that are creating their own exchanges.

The national health reform law allows states to set up and operate their own health insurance exchange beginning in 2014. The national law requires standardized format, definitions, enrollment applications, consumer satisfaction, and marketing requirements to allow easy comparison of the prices, benefits, and performance of health plans.

Individuals without coverage and small businesses will be able to shop for coverage in the new health insurance exchanges beginning in 2014.

Individuals and families earning an income up to 400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for premium tax credits to help make coverage affordable. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that 48 states will receive grants to help step up their own health insurance exchange.

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For more information on the health insurance exchange in the health reform law, click here.http://docs.house.gov/energycommerce/EXCHANGE.pdf

TNS CT21CT-101002-3034373 61ChengTacorda



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