Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Vermont have received new grants to help support the establishment of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an Exchange -- a one-stop marketplace 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.
"We continue to support states as they move forward building an Exchange that works for them," Secretary Sebelius said. "Thanks to the health care law, Americans will have more health insurance choices and the ability to compare insurance plans."
In every state, Exchanges will allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private health plans that meet their needs. Consumers will be able to learn if they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children's Health Insurance Program. Small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the Exchange. These competitive marketplaces make purchasing health insurance easier and more understandable and offer consumers and small businesses increased competition and choice.
Today's awards will give states additional resources and flexibility to establish an Exchange. California, Hawaii, Iowa, and New York today have been awarded Level One Exchange Establishment grants, which provide one year of funding to states that have begun the process of building their Exchange. Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont were awarded Level Two Establishment grants, which are provided to states that are further along in building their Exchange and offers funding over multiple years.
Previously, 49 states, the District of Columbia and four territories received grants to begin planning their Exchanges. With today's awardees, 34 states and the District of Columbia have also received Establishment grants to begin building their Exchanges.
On June 29, HHS announced a funding opportunity providing states with 10 additional opportunities to apply for funding to establish a state-based Exchange, state Partnership Exchange, or prepare state systems for a Federally-facilitated Exchange. States can apply for Exchange grants through the end of 2014, and may use funds during the initial start-up year. This schedule ensures that states have the support and time necessary to build an Exchange that best fits the needs of their residents.
A detailed breakdown of each grant award and what each state plans to do with its Exchange funding is available through the map tool on Healthcare.gov, http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/05/exchanges05232011a.html.
For more information on Exchanges, including fact sheets, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/exchanges.