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State gets $42.5 million more from feds for health exchange planning

State officials said they need the money to prepare for open enrollment scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2013.

State officials said they’ve received a $42.5 million grant from the federal government to fund continued planning and design of the state’s health care insurance exchange.

That’s in addition to earlier federal grants totaling $28.5 million that were obtained for exchange planning.

Exchange Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said: “With open enrollment starting on Oct 1, 2013, this grant is urgently needed to perform the critical development work to keep the project on track.”

State officials expect more than 1 million Minnesotans to use the exchange, when it opens. It’s designed to help individuals and small businesses to compare insurance plans and enroll in public and private health insurance plans. The exchange will also provide information on the quality of health insurers and health care providers.

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The goal of the exchange, according to state documents, is to make health care easier to navigate for consumers and small businesses:

“It can allow Minnesotans to easily compare health insurance options based on cost, quality, and consumer satisfaction. It can also foster fair and equitable competition to encourage insurers and health care providers to place a greater focus on value and affordability.”