Arkansas Board Delays Health Insurance Exchange Grant Request

August 14, 2014

An Arkansas board is delaying its application for funding to establish a state-run health insurance exchange.

The Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board, created by a law passed by state legislators last year, was expected to submit a request this week for more than $100 million to set up the exchange, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. It would replace the marketplace the federal government set up for Arkansas.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Chris Parker, a health board member, that it wants the state nonprofit to have a formal agreement in place with Arkansas’ insurance department on how a changeover to a state-run exchange would happen.

The state’s insurance department helps regulate plans offered on the exchange created by the federal government.

“They want a firm plan for who’s in charge of what, when,” Parker said. He said he will work on an agreement with state insurance officials to present to the board for approval.

Most of the funding request is for designing and building computer systems to allow people to shop for health insurance plans and apply for subsidies.

About $15 million of the request is to create a customer service call center and $10 million is to hire a company to do an outreach campaign for the health exchange. Another $2 million is to hire firms that will provide outreach workers and train them.

The board now plans to submit its grant application in October.

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