Sunday, September 21, 2014 · 6:09 p.m.
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Gov. Bill Haslam. (Photo: Staff)

The clock is ticking for Gov. Bill Haslam, who will have to finalize his decision next week regarding building a state-run health insurance exchange to comply with a critical portion of the Affordable Care Act.

Haslam is one of a handful of governors who opted to wait for the results of Tuesday's election before making a move on the exchange question. 

With the new law ensured for survival with the re-election of President Barack Obama, Haslam was given less than two weeks to weigh the decision for creating an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to shop for and purchase health insurance—or handing the task over to the federal government for creating an exchange.

The deadline mandated by the government for such a decision is next Friday, Nov. 16. 

In recent interviews, Haslam has said he was leaning toward opting for a state-run exchange. But the move could potentially place the governor at odds with members of Republican supermajorities in the General Assembly, which include members who would rather have no hand in approving any component of the president's signature policy.

"We're going to take the nine days to look for answers and do our homework, and then we'll make a decision," Haslam told reporters Wednesday, according to a Nashville Business Journal report.

According to a New York Times report, about 15 states, along with the District of Columbia, have opted to create their own framework for insurance exchanges. Along with Haslam, governors of Arizona, Idaho, New Jersey and Virginia opted to hold off from making a decision until after Election Day, giving them a 10-day window to meet the deadline. 

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, had he been elected, had promised to pursue the repeal of the law. But with the combination of the return of the president, approval last summer by the Supreme Court, and the continuing split of House and Senate control between Republicans and Democrats, the law is essentially guaranteed to remain.

For states that opt to create their own exchanges, the federal government would pay for the full cost for the first three years of the program, beginning in 2014, according to The New York Times.

The amount of federal funding would then be decreased in consequent years.

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