Feds Award Health Exchange Grants To 10 States

The Department of Health and Human Services is sending $229 million in exchange establishment grants to 10 states -- half of which are receiving this funding for a second time around. However, an Associated Press analysis found that progress among states in setting up these health insurance marketplaces remains uneven.  

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: More Exchange Money Headed To States
New federal money is headed to ten states to help them establish insurance exchanges through which individuals and small businesses can buy insurance beginning in 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services is sending a total of $229 million in exchange establishment grants to ten states, the agency announced Wednesday. Half are receiving this kind of grant for the first time, and half are on the second round (Werber Serafini, 2/22).

The Associated Press: Feds Award Health Overhaul Grants To 10 States
Federal officials say another 10 states are getting a total of $230 million to set up new health insurance markets under President Barack Obama's overhaul. Seven of them — Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania — have either adopted a plan or are making substantial headway. But a recent Associated Press analysis found uneven progress among states setting up the new insurance exchanges, a linchpin of the law (Alonzo-Saldivar, 2/22).

Modern Healthcare: States Get $229 Million For Insurance Exchanges
The total number of states receiving grants to establish state health insurance exchanges rose to 33 plus the District of Columbia with the issuance of $229 million in federal funds to 10 states Wednesday. According to officials, the exchange-building grants were the first such federal assistance provided to five of the recipient states: Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (Daly, 2/22).

The Hill: Christie Among GOP Governors Taking Fed Funds For Health Law
Four states with Republican governors received federal grants Wednesday to help implement a key feature of President Obama’s healthcare law. The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) awarded nearly $230 million to 10 states to help them establish insurance exchanges — new marketplaces to compare and buy healthcare policies. Although most Republican governors have railed against the healthcare law, several have also taken steps to establish their own exchanges and avoid the prospect of the federal government taking over the task (Baker, 2/22).

Here's some local coverage of the health exchange grant awards -

Denver Post: Health Reform: Colorado Gets Another $17.9 Million To Start Health Insurance Exchange
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday awarded Colorado another $17.9 million to firmly establish the insurance exchange at the heart of national health reform. The second round of insurance exchange grants will allow the state board to hire more staff and contract with all-important tech and benefits vendors to shape the online guts of the plan (Booth, 2/22).

Boston Globe: State Insurance Exchange Awarded $11.6 Million To Adjust To Affordable Care Act
Massachusetts will receive $11.6 million from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to move the state’s online health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses toward compliance under the Affordable Care Act, the federal agency announced today... Massachusetts, which launched its exchange in 2006, has a leg up. But the Massachusetts Health Connector, which runs the program here, has work to do to adjust the state exchange to meet federal requirements, said Executive Director Glen Shor (Conaboy, 2/22).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: State Health Insurance Exchange Gets A $26 M Boost
Minnesota has received a $26 million federal grant to help build a health insurance exchange, a one-stop marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase health coverage among various policies…. The federal money will allow the state to move ahead on creating the building blocks of the exchange -- particularly the high-tech backbone needed to run an online site and call center where consumers and businesses can buy private insurance and where low-income Minnesotans can sign up for public programs (Crosby, 2/22).

And in other implementation news -

California Healthline: Assessing the First Year of CMS' New Innovation Center
The Affordable Care Act calls on CMS to develop new tools to improve quality and reduce costs in government-subsidized health care programs. The Innovation Center is a sort of a designer/foundry combination, trying to draw and build new tools at the same time. So far, response has been mostly positive from industry and government leaders. ... Some reform critics predict the Innovation Center's projects are unlikely to result in savings, like most of their predecessors. [Robert] Laszewski said fear of failure isn't a good reason to turn away from the Innovation Center's goals (Lauer, 2/22). 

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