New rules from the Department of Health and Human Services are designed to help states set standards for establishing health-care exchanges as part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Heath Care Act. By the beginning of 2014, all states will be required to operate health care exchanges.
"It's [exchanges] kind of like a Travelocity for health insurance," says Brian Chiglinsky, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. "Where you can put some basic information in, get some basic information about yourself and pull up affordable options for health insurance."
Chignlinksy says new federal policies announced this week are intended to give states additional flexibility in how they create the state-based health exchanges, a legal requirement under the Affordable Health Care Act.
"We're obviously under the statutory deadline of Jan. 1, 2014 to have state-based exchanges operating in every state," he says. "And we are going to meet that, whether it's a federal or state-based exchange."
To meet that goal, the federal government has set up a series of deadlines for states. The first one is Jan. 1, 2013, when all states will be legally required to have a certification plan for how they plan to create health care exchanges.
But Del. Patrick Hope says Virginia is on track to miss that deadline.
"Unless the Governor calls a special session, outside of the special session that we are currently in, then we are going to miss the deadline," Hope says.
If Virginia fails to create a health care exchange, the federal government will step in and create one.
"We need to decide, do we want Washington, D.C. to operate the exchange, or do we want to operate it out of Richmond," he says.
Opponents of the Affordable Health Care Act say they would prefer to wait and see how the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the legislation.