The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded nearly $220 million in Affordable Insurance Exchange grants to 13 states to help them create Exchanges, giving these states more flexibility and resources to implement the Affordable Care Act.
The health care reform law gives states the freedom to design Affordable Insurance Exchanges – onestop marketplaces 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.
The Department also released several Frequently Asked Questions providing answers to key questions states need to know as they work to set up these new marketplaces. Critical among these are that states that run Exchanges have more options than originally proposed when it comes to determining eligibility for tax credits and Medicaid.
In the new Exchanges, insurers will provide new information such as an easyto understand summary of benefits and costs to consumers. The level of detail will sharpen competition between carriers which will drive costs down. HHS also released today a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in anticipation of state legislative sessions beginning in January.
HHS will also allow greater flexibility in eligibility determinations, allowing, for example, a state-based Exchange to permit the Federal government to determine eligibility for premium tax credits. Of the 13 states awarded grants today, 12 are receiving Level One grants, which provide one year of funding to states that have already made progress using their Exchange planning grant.
To accommodate state legislative sessions and to give states more time to apply, HHS also announced a six-month extension for Level One establishment grant applications. Applications now will be accepted until June 29, 2012 (the original deadline was December 30, 2011).
For the FAQs, visit cciio.cms.gov/resource s/regulations/index.html#hie .