CMS offers $20M in grants to help state-run ACA exchanges make improvements

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is announcing $20 million in funding to state-run Affordable Cart Act exchanges to help them make improvements as part of a larger effort to boost enrollment. (Getty/kroach)

The Biden administration is offering $20 million in grants to help states improve their Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges.

The funding announced late Monday and provided by the American Rescue Plan Act is intended to help state-run exchanges modernize or update systems or technology to meet federal requirements.

“This funding available to states will help them to provide consumers with swift eligibility determinations and enrollment into comprehensive healthcare plans,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement.

Currently, there are 13 states and the District of Columbia that run their own exchanges. There are another six states that have their own exchanges but use the federally run HealthCare.gov for open enrollment and subsidy eligibility. The remaining states rely on HealthCare.gov and do not have their own exchanges.

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The funding will award 21 cooperative agreement grants to the currently approved state-run exchanges, even those that use HealthCare.gov for eligibility and enrollment.

“SBMs can prioritize funding to make modifications to systems or technology infrastructure related to the implementation of application federal requirements,” CMS said in a release.

The new funding comes as exchanges have had to implement newly enhanced tax subsidies passed under the American Rescue Plan. The enhanced subsidies are scheduled to expire after the 2022 coverage year, but Congress is considering making the boost permanent.

Exchanges can use the funds to help make consumers aware of the new subsidies, including creating more consumer notifications, education, stakeholder training or other support activities.

State exchanges have until July 20 to apply for the funding, which CMS anticipates doling out in September.

This is the latest funding the Biden administration has allocated to boost enrollment on the exchanges. The administration recently announced $80 million in funding to ACA navigators, nonprofits that help consumers navigate their coverage options. The funding had been cut to $10 million during the Trump administration.

CMS is also holding a special enrollment period for ACA coverage through August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The new funding comes as experts believe more insurers are expected to participate in the ACA’s exchanges, especially after the Supreme Court decided last week to preserve the law and strike down a constitutional challenge to it.