HHS funds states' health insurance exchange efforts

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is continuing its support of health insurance exchanges by providing grants for eight states' exchange-related efforts.

The grants, which HHS said would provide additional resources and flexibility to create exchanges, were provided to California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Vermont, reported The Hill's Healthwatch.

"We continue to support states as they move forward building an exchange that works for them," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday in a statement.

California, Hawaii, Iowa and New York received "Level One" grants, which provide one year of funding to states that already have started building their exchange. HHS provided Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada and Vermont with "Level Two" grants that offer multi-year funding for states further along in their exchange creation process.

With this latest round of exchange-related grants, HHS has provided funding to a total of 34 states. However, only 16 states have actually begun creating an exchange framework, Healthwatch noted.

HHS, meanwhile, said it will be flexible when reviewing states' applications to run their own exchanges. In a frequently asked question section addressing the exchange application process, HHS said it may "conditionally approve" a state's request to create and operate an exchange even if can't show that it meets all reform law requirements­--as long as the state can demonstrate "significant progress" in meeting those conditions, reported LifeHealthPro.

In those cases where a state receives conditional approval, that state must sign an agreement outlining specific terms and conditions and agree to additional HHS monitoring of the exchange's progression.

To learn more:
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- check out the LifeHealthPro article
- see the HHS statement

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