State gets $6.7 million for exchange plans; first meeting Aug. 29

The state has secured a $6.7 million federal grant to help create a health insurance exchange, the marketplace for purchasing coverage that must be operating by 2014 as part of federal health reform.

In addition, officials announced that the first meeting of the quasi-public Connecticut Health Care Exchange will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, Aug. 29, in room 1A of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Under federal health reform, each state must have a health insurance exchange that will offer health plans and a way to compare them. Plans sold on the exchange will have to offer certain federally mandated benefits and must be offered with multiple benefit designs. People who earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level and don’t get coverage through their jobs will be eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance, and those will be handled through the exchange. The exchange will also rate the quality of each plan, and coordinate eligibility and enrollment in public medical assistance programs including Medicaid.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will chair the exchange and oversee implementation of federal health reform through the Office of Health Reform and Innovation, which is housed in her office and led by Jeannette DeJesús, special advisor to the governor on health reform.

“The exchange is a foundation of our broader vision for health reform and our strategy to improve residents’ health, increase access to care, and reduce costs,” DeJesús said in a statement released by the lieutenant governor’s office.

The federal grant will fund three projects that address the administration of the exchange, information technology and consumer assistance and reporting requirements, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant, one of 14 awarded to states and the District of Columbia, coincides with new rules for the exchanges announced Friday. Read more about the rules here.