HHS Releases Additional Exchange Grants and Guidance

 

Establishment of exchanges still lagging in most states.

This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $220 million in grants to 13 states to fund the creation of state-based health insurance exchanges, as well as additional guidance on the exchanges in the form of a Q&A document (to read the document, click here).

Health insurance exchanges, as mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are government-created health care marketplaces for both private health insurance and government programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These exchanges will be available for individuals and small businesses, and must be established at the state level or else the federal government will step in.

The grants released to states this week are intended to assist states in creating their exchanges until they can run self-sufficiently on funding streams to be determined by the states. The guidance document extends the deadline for state exchange grants, clarifies how states can use grants to set up their exchanges, and expands state options for determining eligibility for tax credits and Medicaid.

This week’s news comes at a time when very few states have made significant progress toward the creation of exchanges. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the challenges against the constitutionality of the ACA, it is likely that many states will wait for a final decision from the court before moving forward.

However, as previously reported, California is moving ahead and IBA West is closely watching the process.