HHS Takes First Steps In Outreach Effort To Enroll Consumers In Health Exchanges

CQ HealthBeat reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is now collecting contact information for consumers so the agency can provide updates. Meanwhile, Illinois opened a competitive grant process to award funds to community groups to help with the state's consumer education effort.

CQ HealthBeat: Uninsured? HHS Wants To Reach Out And Text You
Consumers may not be able to actually sign up yet for health insurance through the exchanges, but they can submit their contact information to the government now in preparation for updates via text or email, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday (Norman, 5/6).

The Associated Press: Illinois Opens Grant Process For Health Guides
The race is on in Illinois for $28 million in grants to help consumers learn how to shop for health insurance. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced Monday a competitive grant process to distribute the federal money to community groups that want to help educate consumers about the new online insurance marketplace (Johnson, 5/6).

Also, reports from Connecticut and New Jersey highlight overlap and interaction between coverage through Medicaid and the health exchanges -

CT Mirror: Malloy Proposing State Funds To Help Parents Who Would Lose Medicaid Coverage
Democratic legislators effectively rejected a plan by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to cut about 37,500 poor parents from Medicaid and leave them to buy federally subsidized health insurance from a new marketplace being established as part of health care reform. Now the Malloy administration is taking another shot at the cut, with a twist: using state dollars to help those parents buy private insurance. Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy's budget director, said Monday that state funds could reduce what poor parents have to pay to buy health insurance through the new marketplace, called the exchange (Levin Becker, 5/6).

Modern Healthcare: N.J. Health System To Offer Medicaid Plan, Sell Insurance On Exchange
A for-profit company that owns three hospitals in New Jersey said that it has formed a health system and is planning to offer a Medicaid plan and sell insurance on the state exchange about to launch under the healthcare reform law. The Jersey City, N.J.-based company, previously called Hudson Holdco, has acquired the 170-bed Bayonne Medical Center, the 381-bed Christ Hospital in Jersey City and the 204-bed Hoboken University Medical Center in recent years. The new system, rebranded CarePoint Health, will include hospitals, primary care and preventative health centers, insurance plans, and a network of roughly 1,000 physicians, according to a news release (Lee, 5/6).

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