Sen. Franken Announces $1 Million in Federal Funding to Establish Health Insurance Exchange in Minnesota

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Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that Minnesota will receive $1 million in federal funds to begin planning a statewide health insurance exchange that will allow residents to compare the benefits and costs of private health plans and choose the one that best fits their needs.

“Already, the health reform law has helped thousands of Minnesotans by making it easier for people to get coverage and reducing the cost of health care,” said Sen. Franken. “When this exchange opens for business in 2014, Minnesotans who struggle to afford coverage or whose options are far too narrow will be able to log onto a website and choose a plan that fits their budget and their health needs. This funding will begin the process of implementing a health insurance exchange and ultimately make health insurance more affordable and more effective for people all over Minnesota.”

As a result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, each state will receive similar funding from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to create its own health insurance exchange by 2014. According to CMS, Minnesota will use the funding to implement a one-year project plan to research and assess the information technology, and the accounting and auditing procedures needed for the exchange, as well as how it will be integrated among state agencies.

In September of 2010, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty rejected millions of dollars in federal funding for health care in Minnesota. At the same time, he declined to apply for a grant that would have allowed Minnesota to begin the process of implementing its health insurance exchange. This year, newly-elected Gov. Mark Dayton reversed that policy by applying for the grant that will allow the state to begin planning the exchange.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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