HARTFORD – The administration of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman today announced that Connecticut residents and businesses will benefit from a $35.6 million federal grant aimed at helping New England states develop a state-of-the-art, online gateway to health insurance options. While Connecticut and other New England states are directly participating, the project is centered at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Human Services, supported by the non-profit New England States Consortium Systems Organization.
“The convenient availability of health insurance ‘exchanges,’ where consumers and employers can compare and shop for various health insurance plans is a cornerstone of national health care reform,” Governor Malloy said.
“Connecticut is joining our New England neighbors to put together our best thinking and technological savvy,” the Governor said. “The goal is to make sure our citizens and job-providing businesses have the most advanced tools at their fingertips when it comes to comparing and connecting to various health insurance and coverage options.”
Governor Malloy cited this week’s major grant announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a “special acknowledgement of the New England region’s policy innovation and technological prowess” in health care services.
When implemented, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange will provide one-stop shopping for private and public health coverage and service options.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the two-year ‘Early Innovator’ grant to the New England consortium – officially called the New England States Collaborative Insurance Exchange Systems – along with grants to Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin.
“Early Innovator states will play a critical role in developing a consumer-friendly marketplace where insurers must compete to deliver the best deal,” Sebelius said. “These grants ensure that consumers in every state will be able to easily navigate their way through health insurance options.”
Jeannette DeJesús, Governor Malloy’s special advisor on health care reform and Deputy Public Health Commissioner, said Connecticut’s involvement in the regional effort marks a “giant stride” toward full implementation of health care reform in 2014.
“It’s exciting to begin the development of a site for one-stop shopping where everyone in Connecticut can learn about the quality, cost and ways to access health coverage,” DeJesús said. “The federal award puts Connecticut in a great position to achieve the best possible automated, online solution for our health insurance exchange.”
Social Services Commissioner Michael P. Starkowski said, “Connecticut experts will be pooling their skills with colleagues from other states to bring home an outstanding product for our residents. A robust exchange will not only help the general public and employers navigate health insurance options—it will also determine the amount of tax credits people may be eligible to receive from the federal government. At the same time, eligibility for Medicaid will be determined through the exchange, in conjunction with the Department of Social Services.”
Massachusetts officials said the health information exchange framework is expected to be completed by 2013, a year ahead of the federal deadline for setting up the exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The federal grant announcement noted that the Early Innovator will help other New England states establish their exchanges quickly and efficiently.
“At the same time, individual states will continue to have the flexibility to develop an exchange that best meets the needs of their unique health insurance market without having to start from scratch,” the announcement said.
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