Report shines spotlight on health law's small-business exchanges

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The report recommends state officials start by focusing on three principles: 

• Knowing their state's small-business market;

• Shooting for maximum participation; and

• Paying attention to cost concerns.

Policymakers will then face several key decisions, including whether employers or employees should choose the plans and what the role of brokers should be.

"We cannot stress enough how important it is for policymakers to think about the topics covered in this paper before they start setting up the exchanges," the Center for American Progress says in an introduction to the report. "If they fail to take into account such issues as maximizing participation or making the exchange cost competitive, based on the history of small-employer exchanges and pools, they risk low enrollment and potential failure."