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Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota and the District of Columbia have received grants from the Health and Human Services Department totalling nearly $224 million to further establish and build their health insurance exchange.
The latest awards will give states the flexibility and resources they need to continue to move forward to create new health insurance marketplaces for their residents, according to an HHS Sept. 27 announcement.
All states must also provide HHS a blueprint for their exchange plans by Nov. 16. If they don’t, HHS will operate a federally-facilitated exchange in the state and perform the exchange-related programs of risk adjustment and reinsurance.
[See also: VA expects to award MDM tool contract by Sept. 30.]
The state online marketplaces aim to let consumers shop for and compare health coverage and are scheduled to go live Jan. 1, 2014, under the health reform law. Consumers in every state will be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these marketplaces and may be eligible for tax credits to help pay for their health insurance.
“States continue to make progress toward building exchanges that work best for their residents,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the announcement.
Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Minnesota received a total of close to $181 million in awards for Level One Exchange Establishment Grants, which are one-year grants awarded to states to build exchanges.
For example, Arkansas plans with its $18.6 million to design and implement automation to connect Arkansas Medicaid and appropriate state-run exchange functions with the federally-facilitated exchange eligibility and enrollment portal. It also will develop operations and information systems to support state-operated federally-facilitated exchange consumer assistance functions including outreach, education, and the navigator program.
Colorado will use its $43.5 million to build the exchange operational staff and consulting support necessary to make progress on critical design requirements of the exchange and some of the administrative and technical infrastructure to support it, including an operational plan through 2014 and self-sustainability in 2015.
The District of Columbia received a $73 million Level Two Exchange Establishment Grant, which is a multi-year grant awarded to states further along in building their insurance marketplace.
A substantial part of the funding will go to develop an IT system that enables key exchange functions, including eligibility, enrollment and information exchange among individuals, employers, insurance carriers, and state and federal government agencies. DC will also use the funds to hire staff and consultants to manage activities related to the creation and first year of operations for testing and enhancement of the exchange.
A total of 49 states, DC and four territories have received grants to begin planning their exchanges, and 34 states and DC have received grants to begin building their exchanges. States may apply for grants through the end of 2014 and use funds through the initial start-up year.
A map tool breaks down what each state each state plans to do with its exchange funding.