The Council of the District of Columbia has given the district'slocally run health benefits exchange permission to use awide-ranging assessment to fund its operations in 2015.

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The D.C. council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve anexchange funding resolution. The resolution calls for managers ofthe DC Health Link exchange to move ahead with efforts to impose a1 percent assessment on all "health insurance carriers" in thedistrct.

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Only four carriers are selling major medical coverage throughthe exchange this year.

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Carriers cannot sell products such as indemnity insurance,disability insurance, vision insurance or long-term care insurancethrough the exchange, and some have asked in comments on theproposal why they should have to help pay for the exchange.

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Exchange managers said requiring exchange users to shoulder thefull $28 million 2015 exchange budget by themselves would increasethe cost of coverage by about 17 percent.

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray wrote in a letter introducing theresolution that the broad-based assessment is necessary to providea stable and guaranteed funding source for the exchange system.

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"It is similar to the broad-based assessment that funds theoperations of the ombudsman program located within the Departmentof Health Care Finance," Gray wrote.

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, ThinkAdvisor's insurance editor, previously was LifeHealthPro's health insurance editor. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Think_Allison.