Today, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts announced Rhode Island's "First in Nation" status for being chosen to receive a Level II Exchange establishment grant by the federal government. Rhode Island is receiving the first Level II grant in the country, which provides multi-year funding to states further along in the planning process.
In September 2010, Rhode Island received a $1 million Exchange planning grant, and in May 2011 received a Level I establishment grant for $5.2 million. There are 12 other states receiving Level I grants today, which provide one year of funding to states that have already made progress using their Exchange planning grants.
"I am extremely pleased with the progress we are making toward making accessible and affordable healthcare a reality for Rhode Island families and small businesses," said Governor Chafee. "For Rhode Island to be selected as the first state in the nation to receive this grant is a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together on something of great importance to all Rhode Islanders: access to affordable, high quality health care."
"I attribute today's grant award to the Governor's leadership on this issue, establishing a historic collaborative effort of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, the Department of Administration and the public RI Healthcare Reform Commission. Together, they are all working tirelessly to improve healthcare options for Rhode Islanders," said Lt. Governor Roberts, Chair of the RI Healthcare Reform Commission.
Of the nearly $220 million in Affordable Insurance Exchange grants announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rhode Island has been awarded $58.5 million of the $74.5 for which it applied. "Since our initial submission of the Level II application, we determined that we could achieve significant efficiencies by leveraging Exchange technology development efforts currently underway elsewhere," said Chris Koller, Health Insurance Commissioner. "We were able to make this determination in consultation with our federal partners and other innovator states, including our New England collaborative. As a result, we were able to revise our budget to reflect these anticipated efficiencies," Koller explained.
In September, Governor Chafee issued an executive order creating the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, a health insurance marketplace where Rhode Island families and businesses will be able to shop for and compare affordable health insurance coverage options. The Exchange is scheduled to begin offering insurance plans in October of 2013.
Forty-nine States and the District of Columbia have already received planning grants, and 45 states have consulted with consumer advocates and insurance companies. Thirteen states have passed legislation to create an Exchange, bringing to 29 the number of states that are making progress in creating Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
The other states receiving funding today for their Level I applications (received by Rhode Island last May) include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee and Vermont.