Feds give Illinois $32M to set up health exchange despite law’s uncertainty
SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave Illinois $32.7 million to set up a health insurance exchange — even as legislative efforts to do so were abandoned amid uncertainty about the national health-care law’s future.
The grant was awarded as part of a $181 million package, split among six states, as seed money to establish the quasi-governmental online marketplaces selling health-care packages.
“In 2014, consumers in every state will have access to a new marketplace where they will be able to easily purchase affordable insurance,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states can craft their own exchanges by Nov. 12 or accept a federal model.
Illinois lawmakers suspended efforts to craft the exchange, as they await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June on whether the law is unconstitutional.
If the law is struck down, it’s not clear what would happen to Illinois’ $32.7 million federal grant.
While Illinois lawmakers wait for the court's decision, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn could create an exchange by executive order, as governors in New York and Rhode Island have done.
Quinn's health care adviser told the Associated Press he’s open to the idea.
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