The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded grants totaling $229 million to 10 states to establish health insurance exchanges, authorized under the Affordable Care Act.

States awarded the funds include Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The insurance exchanges are designed to provide consumers and small businesses with one-stop shopping for coverage, increase competition in the marketplace and give small businesses higher purchasing clout.

HHS previously awarded $1 million planning grants to states, the District of Columbia and four territories. Six states and a multi-state consortium received $241 million in “early innovator” grants to develop model exchanges for other states to consider. With the new grant awards, 33 states and the District of Columbia have made significant progress toward establishing an exchange, according to the department. The federal government will establish an exchange in states that decline to do so. So far, at least two states, Kansas and Oklahoma, have declined. More information is available here.

HHS also has published a final rule giving states more flexibility to pursue alternative strategies to ensure residents’ access to insurance. More information on the State Innovation Waivers program is available here.

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