HHS to give states $1M each for health insurance exchanges

States, D.C. to receive $51M to set up exchanges by 2014

States can now apply for $51 million in federal money to help build health insurance exchanges, the Health and Human Services Department said today.

HHS wants states to create the exchanges and begin operating them in 2014 as part of the health reform law. The principle is that if consumers have better access to plans, and the plans can be compared more competitively, prices will come down. The exchanges will be operated primarily for individuals whose employers do not offer them health insurance.

States may create their own exchanges, partner with other states or be part of an HHS-created exchange. The exchanges will also function as marketplaces to sell the plans.

The exchanges are expected to operate online; however, standards for the exchanges have not been developed yet. HHS is asking the public for input to establish those standards.

Under the new grant program, states and the District of Columbia are eligible for up to $1 million each to develop the exchanges.

“The exchanges will make purchasing health insurance easier by providing eligible consumers and businesses with 'one-stop-shopping' where they can compare and purchase health insurance coverage,” HHS said.

Grant applications are due by Sept. 1 and comments on the exchange development are due by Oct. 4.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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