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Even as Oklahoma and Kansas recently said ‘no thanks’ to federal money aimed at helping them with the health information technology platform needed to create health insurance exchanges, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury last week awarded $185M more to drive the creation of the exchanges across the country.
The HHS award went to 13 states and the District of Columbia to help them build the exchanges. With Treasury, HHS also posted three proposed rules aimed at providing a simple, streamlined and affordable path for consumers to use the exchanges to purchase private health insurance.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to governors laying out options and resources available to states to set up their exchanges.
"Too many American families have been priced out or locked out of the health insurance market,” Sebelius wrote. “Exchanges will give them control and could save them thousands of dollars a year. I am encouraged by the progress states have made to date and am excited to give them more resources to continue their work."
"Today we're laying the foundation to provide tax incentives to help working families purchase health insurance," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "This new tax credit brings us a big step closer to achieving one of the signature goals of the Affordable Care Act – to provide tens of millions of Americans with access to affordable health insurance coverage."
The Exchange Establishment grants awarded on Aug. 11 build on earlier investments in states. In 2010, HHS awarded 49 states and the District of Columbia $50 million to begin planning their Exchanges. HHS expects to make more grant awards in coming months.
The three proposed rules released by HHS and Treasury focus on the following:
- Easy, Simple Access to Coverage for Consumers and Small Businesses: New rules will make it easy for consumers to enroll in high-quality health plans and get help paying for health coverage through premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions. Small employers participating in the Small Business Health Options program will be able to offer their employees a choice of health plans and cut their costs with new tax credits.
- Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit: Individuals and families will receive premium tax credits to help defray insurance costs, increasing access to health coverage for millions of middle class American families.
- Medicaid Eligibility: Coordinating the Exchange with Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance. Program eligibility will make enrollment seamless for qualified Americans and reduce the administrative burden on states.
For a list of the states receiving the awards, and details of their projects, click on next page.