HHS Awards Funds for Health Insurance Exchanges

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Thirteen states today received from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a total of $220 million in grants to build health insurance exchanges. Grant recipients include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont. New insurance marketplaces created with the grant money must be operational by 2014. HHS possesses the power to implement a federal exchange in any state that does not establish its own such marketplace. HHS also announced today states’ right to apply for, receive, and spend grant money even if they do not have an operational exchange in place by the deadline. The agency has consistently pushed states hard to implement their own exchanges or partner with the federal government to do so. According to a new guidance for states, states given exchange grants can apply the money to configure parts of an exchange and leave the agency to handle the rest. “States are moving at their own pace to get their exchanges up and running,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press conference.