The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded seven grants totaling $241 million to assist "early innovator" states in building the information technology infrastructure necessary to operate state-level health information exchanges mandated under the health reform law.

The exchanges, which must be operational by 2014, are designed to help individuals and small employers compare, select and purchase health insurance. Exchanges implemented in the early innovator states will give others a variety of models to choose from, HHS hopes.

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