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HHS Offers Grants For Health IT Infrastructure

Early Innovators competition will reward states for innovative and cost effective proposals to help consumers and SMBs compare and sign up for health insurance plans.

Healthcare Innovators
Slideshow: Healthcare Innovators
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will offer competitive funding opportunities for states to design and implement IT infrastructure needed to operate health insurance exchanges (HIEs).

Dubbed Early Innovators grants, the competitive initiative will reward states that demonstrate leadership in developing cutting edge and cost effective consumer-based technologies and models for insurance eligibility and enrollment for exchanges.

HHS announced the program late last week and said the effort is intended to help create a simpler, consumer-oriented system for individuals, families, and businesses to sign up for the health insurance plan that they choose.

The state-based exchanges, which are scheduled to be operational in 2014, will require the development of a robust health IT infrastructure that will support secure websites where eligible consumers and small businesses can compare health plans as well as purchase health insurance coverage.

All states, including recipients of the award, will be eligible to apply for a future funding opportunity, to be announced in February, that will support ongoing exchange implementation.

"States are focused on implementing the health insurance exchanges because they know the exchanges will empower their citizens by forcing health insurers to compete," HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "Consumer-friendly information technology is the backbone of that effort, which is why we are creating an incentive for states that are willing and able to lead the way to do so."

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