Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded 10 additional states funding under the Level One and Two establishment grants. Grant awards amount to approximately $230 million. Interestingly enough, Arkansas, which has opted for the federal exchange, is among the awardees. Legislation to establish an insurance exchange failed to pass in the state last year; however, the state is still determining its role in utilizing the federal option. The establishment grants are used to help states build functions to operate under a statewide exchange, partnership exchange, or to support activities to build interfaces with a federally-facilitated exchange.
HHS, in conjunction with the Department of Treasury, also revealed its finalized proposed ruling, which outlines the steps states may take to obtain a State Innovation Waiver under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This option gives states more flexibility to pursue innovative strategies to ensure their residents have access to quality, affordable health insurance. Under the new proposed rule, states would be allowed to change benefit levels or add new ones to plans offered in their insurance exchanges. The waivers would be provided for up to five years, with an option to renew.
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