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Mass. granted extra year to comply with Affordable Care Act

Federal officials have granted Massachusetts an additional year to transition to full compliance with the Affordable Care Act, giving state health insurers until 2017 to replace their criteria for setting small business premium rates with federal criteria.

Governor Deval Patrick was alerted to the extension Thursday by outgoing US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in the latest federal move to delay implementation of the health law aimed at expanding health insurance nationally.

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Under pressure from small business owners who feared federal criteria used to determine rates would increase their insurance premiums, state officials had asked Obama administration officials for more time and flexibility in adapting the national standards. Federal officials agreed last year to give Massachusetts a three-year timetable.

Patrick, in a statement Thursday, thanked the White House “for affording us this flexibility that will help our small businesses more smoothly transition into compliance with the Affordable Care Act.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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