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Minnesota gets $39 million federal grant for health insurance exchange development

Minnesota officials said today that they've received a $39 million federal grant that will help pay for design and development of a state health insurance exchange.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said in a statement:

"This grant award brings Minnesota one step closer to a state-based health insurance exchange. This grant will provide the resources Minnesota needs to establish an exchange in time for open enrollment in October 2013."

Officials said the federal money will be used for "IT licenses and maintenance costs, call center operation, consumer outreach including training for customer assistance, navigators, brokers and in-person assisters, consumer testing, and other administrative functions."

The state previously received $70 million from the federal government to hire staff and contractors for the insurance exchange, which is designed to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to buy health care insurance.

State officials say more than 1 million Minnesotans will use the exchange to:

".. choose the health insurance they need at a price they can afford, saving $1 billion every year on health care costs. It will facilitate enrollment in public health insurance and private insurance products, calculate eligibility for tax credits and allow Minnesotans to shop and compare between insurance products. The Exchange will also provide information on quality of health insurers and health care providers."

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