On August 23, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
announced the award of $104.4 million to the Department of Vermont
Health Access in the form of a Level Two Establishment Grant for
the continued development of its Health Benefit Exchange.
The Exchange is a marketplace for individuals, families, and
small businesses to compare and purchase qualified private health
insurance plans, determine eligibility for and enroll in public
health insurance plans, and access federal tax credits.
The Level Two Establishment Grant funding will primarily be used
to develop IT, business, and outreach operations to support the
critical functions of the Exchange. Vermont has successfully kept
up with an aggressive federal milestone schedule, and is on target
to begin open enrollment through the Exchange in October 2013.
Doug Racine, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services,
said, "The Level Two Establishment Grant award provides us with the
resources and flexibility needed to successfully establish our
state's Exchange-a critical step toward comprehensive, affordable
coverage for all Vermonters."
DVHA's final Level Two Establishment Grant request was awarded
in full. It is the third federal grant that Vermont has received to
fund the development of the state's Exchange. In 2011, Vermont
received a Planning Grant and the state is currently operating on
funds from the subsequent Level One Exchange Establishment Grant.
The total federal funds awarded to date are $123,269,334, which has
allowed, and will continue to allow, the state to plan, implement,
and operationalize the Exchange.
The Agency of Administration's Director of Health Care Reform
Robin Lunge said, "We are grateful for the continued support from
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. DVHA staff is
working diligently to ensure that our Exchange meets the
expectations of Vermonters and helps them get the quality,
affordable care they need."
The Affordable Care Act requires that all states have a health
insurance exchange. Vermont, along with other states that have
chosen to operate their own Exchange, must function within federal
requirements. However, the state is given flexibility in terms of
implementation. The Vermont legislature passed Act 48 in 2011 and
Act 171 in 2012, authorizing the creation of the state's Exchange
within DHVA, instituting changes to Vermont's private health
insurance market, and setting Vermont on its way towards a
single-payer health care system.