$1 Million Federal Grant Available to Help Start State-Run Health Exchange

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Governor Sean Parnell has until Friday to decide whether to accept a $1 million federal grant to help set up a state-run health insurance exchange that would give Alaskans and small businesses access to competitive information they can use to develop health insurance coverage.

Seven Democratic members of the Senate Majority Wednesday wrote the governor urging him to accept the federal money.  In their letter, they remind him of the alternative – if there is no state system in place, a federal information exchange will be established for Alaskans to use.

Anchorage’s Johnny Ellis was one of the letter’s signers.   He says Alaska is the only state that hasn’t started setting up an exchange – even among states that have challenged the overall federal Affordable Care Act.

Ellis says establishing a way for the public to compare health insurance policies was designed to encourage competition – calling it one part of the federal law that is market-driven. No legislation would be needed to accept the money or to set up the exchange.

Download Audio (MP3)