For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Minnesota Department of Health: John Stieger , 651-201-4998, John.Stieger@state.mn.us
Minnesota Department of Commerce: Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, 651-296-7531/651-247-6549, firstname.lastname@example.org
Second chance for planning funds will help move health reform forward
(ST. PAUL, MN) Minnesota announced today that it will take advantage of a renewed opportunity to apply for a $1 million federal grant to plan for the establishment of a health insurance exchange, an integral component of federal health reform.
This opportunity is a result of a conversation between Governor Dayton and Secretary Sebellius in which he asked that Minnesota be given the opportunity to apply. Minnesota had previously been prohibited from applying for the same funding last September.
Under federal health reform, exchanges will be the mechanism through which consumers choose coverage and lower-income individuals receive financial assistance through Medicaid or subsidies for private insurance. The planning grant is a first step that would allow Minnesota to receive additional federal funding to develop and implement a statewide exchange by 2014. An exchange is an organized online marketplace designed to facilitate competition and simplify the comparison, choice and purchase of health insurance coverage for individuals and small employers.
The state will submit its application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for federal funding before the end of January, with funds to be received by March 1.
Last year, HHS offered states a chance to apply for funds to assist with the planning and establishment of the American Health Benefit Exchanges outlined by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010. Minnesota did not apply.
Multiple agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Human Services will work together with the Governor's office to plan for the implementation of an exchange that will maximize competition and simplify Minnesota's health care system.
"It is a high priority to get the health insurance exchange for Minnesotans back on track," said Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "These funds help kick start our planning process to develop the insurance exchange."
The grant will be used to plan for ways to tailor the exchange to best serve the needs of Minnesota citizens.
"MDH's mission is to improve the health of the entire population, and the health insurance exchange is an essential tool to accomplish that," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of Health. "We are eager to get started on this important work to ensure that an exchange brings valuable health care to all Minnesotans, whether they have public or private coverage."