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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

States receive $51 million to help with exchanges

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of $51 million in resources for states to begin building their health insurance exchanges. Each state will have the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $1 million that would go toward the research and planning that will be needed to establish these new and dynamic insurance marketplaces. In addition, HHS has also requested public input as they develop standards for the exchanges.

Starting in 2014, all states are required to create a health insurance exchange, which will provide a competitive, consumer-oriented, marketplace for individuals to purchase health insurance. States have the option of establishing and operating their own exchange, or pairing up with neighboring states to create a regional exchange. If a state does not set up an exchange for their residents, HHS will step in and create one on their behalf.

The Affordable Care Act authorized grants to states to assist in their planning process and to ensure that each state has the resources they need to research and plan the most effective exchange. According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

“With most states struggling to keep their budgets in balance, these grants will give them the resources to conduct the research and planning needed to build the health insurance marketplace of the future[.]”

A fact sheet on the exchange planning grants and the request for public input can be found here. Additional information and a Q&A is available here.

Grant applications are available at http://www.healthcare.gov/center/grants and are due by September 1, 2010.