Benefits

States Get $229 Million for Health Insurance Exchanges

By Rich Daly

Feb. 22, 2012

The total number of states receiving grants to establish state health insurance exchanges rose to 34 with the issuance of $229 million in federal funds to 10 states Feb. 22.
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. The federal government has previously provided grants to 49 states to perform basic exchange planning, but several states have since announced that they will not proceed beyond that stage because of their opposition to the underlying federal health care law.

The Feb. 22 grant announcement was the latest indication about the number of states that ultimately may launch their own versions of the insurance marketplaces mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. States that do not both enact their own exchange laws and certify over the next 10 months their ability to launch an exchange by 2014 will have either a federal exchange or a hybrid of the two exchange types, known as a partnership, built by federal officials.

“What that means is that there are many states that are proceeding with work on either a state-based exchange or under the partnership model even though they don’t or may not yet have legislative authority,” said Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the CMS, in a call with reporters.

In separate actions, federal officials issued rules for both a waiver program (PDF) for states that want to provide more expansive insurance coverage than is required by federal rules and another to increase public access to Medicaid waiver information.

Rich Daly writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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