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Crunch time for health exchanges

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The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it’s sending $229 million to 10 states to set up health insurance exchanges, where individuals will buy subsidized health coverage come 2014 (think of them as an Expedias for insurance). So far, the federal government has spent nearly $1 billion to get the exchanges up and running by 2014.

This year will be a pretty important one for states on health exchanges. All 50 are eligible to apply for multimillion-dollar planning grants, and, so far, 33 have received them (you can see which ones in the map above from Kids Well Campaign). To establish the new marketplace, however, nearly all states need to pass laws creating new legislative authorities. There, progress has been slower: Only 15 states have passed exchange legislation.

A state has to have made enough progress on setting up an exchange by January 2013 to be certified by the Obama adminstration as able to launch a marketplace the following January.

The White House wants every state to set up its own exchange so that they don’t have to face the prospect of the federal government having to do it for them. The number of states that obtain the grants and move legislation in 2012 could have a strong impact on the federal government’s workload.

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