Connecticut officials are pushing ahead with plans to set up the new health insurance exchange, a marketplace where individuals and businesses can find affordable coverage, by next fall.
The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week awarded the state a $107 million grant. It was the latest allotment from the federal government as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law. To date, the state has now received a total of $116 million.
Connecticut is one of a handful of states to have received a so-called Level-Two Establishment Grant. It joins Washington, Rhode Island, Maryland, Nevada and Vermont.
“The Affordable Care Act, which has unnecessarily become a political punching bag, has one noble, overarching goal: to expand access to more affordable healthcare to nearly every American,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a written statement. The Democratic governor signed legislation in July 2011 enabling the establishment of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange.
“Today, after a year of hard work developing our own state-based exchange, we are one step closer to that goal,” Malloy said. “This latest grant reaffirms our commitment and readiness to implementing this innovative new way for state residents and small businesses to access affordable health insurance.”
Kevin Counihan, the exchange’s new CEO, said this latest grant will help clear the way for the organization to offer open enrollment in October 2013. Much of the money will be spent on the exchange’s information technology systems and operations plan.
The board that oversees the exchange has been deciding which essential health care benefits will have to be covered by plans that will be offered to individuals and small business employers who will use the new system to evaluate, compare and purchase health insurance coverage. As part of the new federal law, subsidies will also be provided to help some people afford health insurance coverage. The board will also need to decide what requirements it wants the participating health plans to follow to be considered as qualified to participate in the exchange.
In Connecticut, about 377,000 of the state’s 3.5 million residents are uninsured, or nearly 11 percent.