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(1) The legislature finds that the affordable care act requires the establishment of health benefit exchanges. The legislature intends to establish an exchange, including a governance structure. There are many policy decisions associated with establishing an exchange that need to be made that will take a great deal of effort and expertise. It is therefore the intent of the legislature to establish a process through which these policy decisions can be made by the legislature and the governor by the deadline established in the affordable care act.
(2) The exchange is intended to:
(a) Increase access to quality affordable health care coverage, reduce the number of uninsured persons in Washington state, and increase the availability of health care coverage through the private health insurance market to qualified individuals and small employers;
(b) Provide consumer choice and portability of health insurance, regardless of employment status;
(c) Create an organized, transparent, and accountable health insurance marketplace for Washingtonians to purchase affordable, quality health care coverage, to claim available federal refundable premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies, and to meet the personal responsibility requirements for minimum essential coverage as provided under the federal affordable care act;
(d) Promote consumer literacy and empower consumers to compare plans and make informed decisions about their health care and coverage;
(e) Effectively and efficiently administer health care subsidies and determination of eligibility for participation in publicly subsidized health care programs, including the exchange;
(f) Create a health insurance market that competes on the basis of price, quality, service, and other innovative efforts;
(g) Operate in a manner compatible with efforts to improve quality, contain costs, and promote innovation;
(h) Recognize the need for a private health insurance market to exist outside of the exchange; and
(i) Recognize that the regulation of the health insurance market, both inside and outside the exchange, should continue to be performed by the insurance commissioner.
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