The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $49 million to 48 states and the District of Columbia in an initial round of planning grants for the establishment of state health insurance exchanges, which are required under the Accountable Care Act (health care reform).

The exchanges are intended to enable consumers in each state easy access to comparative information about health insurance benefits offered by government and private insurers, and to purchase coverage. Activities supported via the grants include assessing existing information systems capabilities and gaps, getting public input, planning for consumer call centers, determining necessary state rules to build the exchange, hiring staff, planning coordination of eligibility and enrollment systems from various payers, and developing performance measures.

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