On Friday, HHS awarded California more than $38 million for work on its statewide health insurance exchange, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/12).
California is one of 13 states and Washington, D.C., that will share $185 million in funding to help set up state-based exchanges that are called for under the federal health reform law.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday also sent a letter to governors describing resources and options available to assist states in establishing the exchanges.
Proposed Rules Issued
Also on Friday, HHS and the Department of the Treasury issued proposed rules outlining eligibility and tax credits for the exchanges (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 8/12).
The three draft rules focus on:
- Access to coverage for consumers and small businesses: The rules will allow consumers to enroll in high-quality health plans and receive financial assistance for coverage through tax credits and cost-sharing programs. Small businesses will be able to offer multiple health plan options to their employees and also be eligible for tax credits.
- Health insurance premium tax credit: Individuals and families will be able to obtain tax credits to offset insurance costs, which HHS expects will help expand health coverage to include millions of U.S. residents.
- Medicaid eligibility: Exchange enrollment will be coordinated with Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to streamline processes and lower states' administrative burden.
Within the next several weeks, the administration is expected to launch an outreach campaign to solicit public comments on the draft rules from employers, consumers, state leaders, health care providers and insurers. In addition to accepting comments for the next 75 days, the agencies also will be holding public forums in cities around the country, including Sacramento (HHS release, 8/12).
The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 17 (Modern Healthcare, 8/12).