Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Missouri receives $21M grant to set up insurance exchange

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - Missouri has received a $21 million federal grant to build an online health insurance exchange, or marketplace.

Travis Ford with the Missouri Department of Insurance says if set up correctly, an exchange would enable Missourians to view multiple insurance plans online at once, to more easily compare policies and prices.

Under the federal health law, states can either develop their own exchanges, or opt out and have the federal government step in and create one instead. Ford says the grant allows Missouri to get a head start on the process.

"If Missouri’s leaders elect to build, create and operate a state-run online market place like this, then we need to be ready," Ford says. "This grant money allows us to do the work and put the IT structure in place necessary for us to be ready."

The federal health law requires the exchanges to be up and running by 2014.

The Missouri house unanimously passed exchange legislation last session, but it never made it to a vote in the Senate.

The Senate’s insurance committee, meanwhile, is preparing to hold hearings across the state this month and next on whether and how to set one up.

Elana Gordon, KCUR


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