States Continue to Move Forward with Exchanges, HHS says
States Continue to Move Forward with Exchanges, HHS says — FEDERAL NEWS
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced that California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Vermont have received new grants to help support the establishment of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an Exchange – a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.
According to the HHS, Exchanges will level the health insurance playing field, so that small businesses will have a better choice of plans and insurers at a lower cost, the way larger employers do now. In addition, small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the Exchange.
In every state, Exchanges will allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private health plans that meet their needs. Consumers will be able to learn if they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These competitive marketplaces make purchasing health insurance easier and more understandable and offer consumers and small businesses increased competition and choice, says HHS.
This latest round of awards will give states additional resources and flexibility to establish an Exchange. On August 23, 2012, California, Hawaii, Iowa, and New York were awarded Level One Exchange Establishment grants, which provide one year of funding to states that have begun the process of building their Exchange. Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont were awarded Level Two Establishment grants, which are provided to states that are further along in building their Exchange and offers funding over multiple years. A detailed breakdown of each grant award and what each state plans to do with its Exchange funding is available through the map tool on Healthcare.gov, http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/05/exchanges05232011a.html.
Previously, 49 states, the District of Columbia and four territories received grants to begin planning their Exchanges. With today’s awardees, 34 states and the District of Columbia have also received Establishment grants to begin building their Exchanges.
“We continue to support states as they move forward building an Exchange that works for them,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Thanks to the health care law, Americans will have more health insurance choices and the ability to compare insurance plans.”
On June 29, 2012, HHS announced a funding opportunity providing states with 10 additional opportunities to apply for funding to establish a state-based Exchange, state Partnership Exchange, or prepare state systems for a Federally-facilitated Exchange. States can apply for Exchange grants through the end of 2014, and may use funds during the initial start-up year. This schedule ensures that states have the support and time necessary to build an Exchange that best fits the needs of their residents.
Source: HHS news release, August 23, 2012, www.hhs.gov and www.healthcare.gov. Reprinted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.