In October, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a competitive funding opportunity for states to design information technology infrastructure for operating health insurance exchanges. These “Early Innovator” grants were intended to provide incentives to states (who would have to create IT infrastructure for exchanges anyway) to demonstrate leadership by creating simple, consumer-oriented IT models that could then be used by all states in their efforts to establish exchanges.
The Schwarzenegger administration announced today that California would NOT be applying for the grant due to a “lack of consensus.” Consumer advocates are disappointed that the Administration is letting this important funding opportunity pass. Part of the issue was the Administration’s preferred online-focused approach to application and enrollment, a process that many were concerned did not provide the assistance that many Californians would need to get enrolled in coverage. Regardless of the different options moving forward, we hope the new Brown Adminstration makes this a priority ASAP, so that California has the time to get ready for 2014.