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August 17, 2011

District Receives 8 Million Dollars Federal Grant Award to Implement Affordable Health Insurance Exchange 

Department of Health and Human Services Grant Will Support Design of District’s Exchange

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(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Vincent Gray today announced that the District received a Level One Exchange Establishment grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). On August 12, 2011, 13 states and the District of Columbia were awarded over $185 million dollars in Exchange Establishment grants.

The District’s grant award, in the amount of $8,200,716, will facilitate planning and implementation efforts to establish a certified and functioning District of Columbia Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) by January 2014. The funding from this Exchange Establishment grant will leverage the data, information and indicators gathered in the preliminary planning effort into a comprehensive project design document.

“I’m pleased to announce this award to assist the District in implementing a vital component of the Affordable Care Act,” Mayor Gray said. “The DC Health Insurance Exchange will provide a valuable tool to our residents as they seek affordable health-care coverage.”

The District received a similar grant earlier this year to conduct studies on the feasibility of an HIX and to conduct community forums to hear directly from residents on how a District HIX should be established. To facilitate these efforts, Mayor Gray established the Mayor’s Health Reform Implementation Committee (HRIC), composed of leadership and staff from several District agencies, to organize community forums and outreach to garner input from District residents. The HRIC’s objective is to provide recommendations to the Mayor on the design of an HIX that is representative of the unique health-insurance needs of District residents and that reflects the preferences of stakeholders.

When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014, individuals and small businesses will have access to affordable coverage through a new competitive private health insurance market – state-based Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
On January 20, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new funding opportunity for Exchange Establishment grants to help states continue their work to implement this key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Exchange Establishment grants recognize that states are making progress toward establishing Exchanges but are doing so at different paces. Each state can apply for grant funding based on their needs and planned expenditures.

The District of Columbia applied before the March 30, 2011 deadline and was one of the states selected to receive a Level One Exchange Establishment grant. The grants ensure that each state can move forward on their own timetable as they work to build a Health Insurance Exchange.

Health Insurance Exchanges

Health Insurance Exchanges will provide individuals and small businesses with a “one-stop shop” to find and compare affordable, quality private health insurance options. With these exchanges, Americans will no longer be on their own in trying to find comprehensive, affordable health coverage that is right for their needs. Health Insurance Exchanges will bring new transparency to the market so that consumers will be able to compare plans based on price and quality. By increasing competition between insurance companies and allowing individuals and small businesses to band together to purchase insurance, Health Insurance Exchanges will help lower costs.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Health Reform Implementation Committee

In May 2011, Mayor Gray announced the creation of the Mayor’s Health Reform Implementation Committee. The committee was formed to advise and make recommendations to the Mayor’s office on the implementation of the sweeping health-care reform passed by Congress in 2010. The panel is chaired by Wayne Turnage, Director of the Department of Health Care Finance and co-chaired by Department of Health Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter and Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking Commissioner William White. It has three subcommittees: Eligibility and Medicaid Expansion; Insurance; and Health Delivery System. Additional committee members are from related agencies, such as the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Disability Services.

The committee will submit its recommendations to Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services BB Otero so that her office can ensure interagency coordination in implementing the committee’s recommendations. For more information on the District’s Health Reform Implementation activities, please go to www.healthreform.dc.gov.