Six states and a consortium of New England states will receive a total of about $241 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to design and implement online health care exchanges.
The seven “Early Innovator” recipients will develop exchange models using the federal grants that can be adopted by other states, officials said.
The health exchanges are part of federal health reform passed last year. Under the law, by 2014, all states must create health exchanges where individuals and small business owners can compare health insurance options and buy coverage.
Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin, Kansas and a consortium of New England states will together receive about $241 million in federal funding, the HHS said. (Scroll down to see how much each state received.)
The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Massachusetts Connector Authority is receiving $35.6 million, according to the UMMS.
“The Massachusetts [grant] is really all six New England states with Massachusetts being the lead,” Bob Nevins, CEO of the Massachusetts Health Connector, told IFA.
The New England States Consortium Systems Organization, the non-profit corporation organized by the six New England health and human services agencies, was designed to foster communication during the exchange implementation, the UMMS reported.
The UMMS said it expects the framework to be completed by 2013.
Massachusetts already operates an exchange as a result of its own health care reform act passed in 2006 requiring individuals to get health insurance, the UMMS said.
“What this [grant] will allow us to do is to modify your existing exchange to comply with national health care reform,” Nevins said. “We’re a little bit of a different animal than some of the other states that have received the Early Innovator funding. Those states don’t have any exchange in place.”
“Health care reform means that consumers will be more directly involved in health care decisions, starting with the purchase of their insurance coverage,” said Michael F. Collins, chancellor and university senior vice president for the health sciences at UMMS, in a statement. “This grant will help the nation reach the place where we are in the Commonwealth, as it designs and implements a comprehensive, user-friendly mechanism for consumers to more fully control their health care expenditures.”
Grant applicants were selected based on their readiness to develop technology for an exchange system.
Federal grants for state online exchanges
Kansas: Kansas Insurance Department, $31,537,465
Maryland: Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, $6,227,454
Multi-State Consortia: University of Massachusetts Medical School, $35,591,333
New York: New York Department of Health, $27,431,432
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Health Care Authority, $54,582,269
Oregon: Oregon Health Authority, $48,096,307
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Department of Health Services, $37,757,266
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services