“Be careful what you wish for” is the adage that came to mind when HHS announced it planned to extend the final deadline for applying for Level II exchange establishment funding from June 29, 2012 to November 3, 2014. The announcement published in the federal register today proposed to set the rolling deadline for Level II grant applications for: August 1, 2012; November 1, 2012; February 1, 2013; May 1, 2013; August 1, 2013; November 1, 2013; February 3, 2014; May 1, 2014; August 1, 2014; and November 3, 2014.
While many states were hoping for an extension, it could get them into a predicament similar to the one my son found himself in when he took advantage of a deadline extension on the first phase of his science fair project. He was thrilled when the teacher offered him an extension until he realized that the date of the science fair would not change. He ended up behind the eight ball trying to get his project completed in time.
This is welcome news for states that just can’t get their applications in by the original deadlines, however, it’s important to note that the target date for getting their exchanges up and running hasn’t changed so it would be a good idea to keep moving forward as diligently as possible despite the extra time.
Hopefully states will follow the old adage “there is no time like the present” when considering whether or not to delay their applications. After all, “the early bird gets the worm” and the earliest funded exchanges will most likely produce the best results for families and individuals patiently waiting for a more competitive insurance marketplace to help them find more affordable health care coverage.