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Nonprofit health insurance exchange gets $128M federal grant

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The nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector has won $128 million in federal funds to implement the state’s first health insurance exchange, designed to provide residents access to affordable medical coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today the multi-year grant, which will pay for a customer service call center, consumer assistance program, general operations and maintenance for the Connector through December 2014.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which takes effect in January 2014, requires states to set up health insurance exchanges, which will match qualified uninsured individuals to subsidized health care plans. 

To date, Hawaii has received about $205 million from the federal government to build the program and an online health insurance exchange portal — envisioned as a one-stop shop where health plans compete and consumers compare medical plans. The exchange could be used by as many as 100,000 uninsured Hawaii residents to select their health care coverage.

“The Connector remains focused on our mission to provide a state based health insurance exchange that is committed to supporting the unique needs of our community,” said Coral Andrews, executive director for the Hawaii Health Connector, in a press release. “Along with our federal and state partners, we are working to enhance, empower and improve lives throughout the state by making health insurance accessible to all.”

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