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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has granted the state more time to submit information about health plans that will be offered through the state’s new insurance-exchange marketplace for 2014.

The original deadline was Saturday. But Tuesday, the federal agency set a new deadline of Sept. 5 for Washington. HHS officials were not immediately available to say whether the extension applies to other states as well.

Sixteen states, including Washington, have chosen to run their own exchanges, a key piece of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. They’re required to upload information about all their certified health plans into a federal database.

This step is one of the crucial milestones on the road to getting the exchanges up and running by Oct. 1, when enrollment in the plans opens.

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But last week, the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which must certify plans on the exchange, delayed its vote on certification to allow more insurers to make a case for their plans to be included.

That decision made it unlikely the board would be able to certify health plans to meet the Saturday deadline.

Board members said they were concerned the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, which reviewed the plans, had not approved enough
to provide sufficient choice for consumers.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler approved 31 health plans offered by four insurers for the individual insurance market but rejected plans offered by five other carriers.

Three of the rejected carriers are appealing that decision and have been granted hearings this week before an administrative-law judge.

The board is to meet Thursday on the certification issue.

It also scheduled

an additional

meeting Sept. 4, which would

give it

more time to certify health plans before the new HHS deadline.

Amy Snow Landa is a freelance writer in Seattle. This story was produced through a partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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