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HHS Offers States $51 Million to Establish HIE

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced July 29 that states may now apply for their share of $51 million in grant money to establish health insurance exchanges (HIEs). HHS also is requesting public comment as the agency develops the rules and standards HIEs should be required to meet.
This “first round” of grant money—authorized under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—is intended to help states with the research and planning needed to create an HIE, which is basically a competitive, consumer-centered health insurance marketplace. Each state can apply for a $1 million grant to help with the costs associated with establishing an HIE; however, states may operate an HIE alone or in cooperation with other states. Future funding will support development and implementation activities that states will undertake through 2014, which is when state HIEs are expected to be operational.
President Barack Obama promoted the concept of a health insurance exchange as a key component of his health reform initiative. The public health insurance option was ultimately dropped from the reform legislation prior to it being passed, however, so the insurance sold in HIEs will be from private insurers.
Grant applications are due Sept. 1. and are available on the HealthCare.gov website (search for CFDA number 93.525). HHS is accepting public comment in regards to HIEs until Oct. 4.

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