Friday’s deadline, November 16, calls for each state, including Wisconsin, to give the federal government a “blueprint” for a Health Information Exchange. State exchanges compare the benefits and costs of insurance policies and post the results online so people and employers can choose which are the best values for them. They will also make electronic patient records accessible for treatment and research for the public health. As I noted in my election-eve blog post, exchanges (also called HIEs) are central to health care reform by making better consumer choices possible.
State blueprints would resolve such choices as whether the exchange will be a private non-profit company or a state agency, and what consent and protections are in place for patient privacy. Overall, a state can choose whether its exchange will be run by the state, in a partnership with the federal government, or by the federal government. If a state doesn’t provide a blueprint, its exchange will be formed and run according the rules and models in federal regulations that will be issued soon.