Exchange grant submitted, now the work begins…

With all the news about the state budget being passed right before the start of the 2011-12 state fiscal year, and the legislative debate over AB52 and other measure, you might have overlooked another key milestone last week: the submission of a grant application by the California Health Benefits Exchange to the federal government, to fund the Exchange’s operation for the next year.

The application was approved on last Tuesday’s Board meeting. We happened to be meeting with HHS Secretary Diana Dooley, who also chairs the Exchange Board, when she was signing the final document for transmittal to the feds. With permission, we got the document the moment with a camera phone photo, another version of which we posted on our Twitter feed @healthaccess.

With these funds, the Exchange board will be able to start hiring a core staff and contracting with key experts as it ramps up to 2014. The full application is on the Exchange’s website.

But the work is just beginning. In particular, we feel urgency regarding the pending legislation around implementing health reform. This includes the bills to better align California laws to key consumer protections and market rules, which are needed so that the industry can appropriately prepare and phase in to the new rules. This also include the work on streamlining eligibility and enrollment, so that we have key goals and a framework in place to 2012 so that we can be operational in 2013. Our goal is nothing less than mass enrollment on Day One, Janaury 1, 2014–both to get people the care and financial security they need, but also to draw those federal funds into our health system and economy as soon as possible.

We have key bills on these topics in the legislature this week, and we’ll have an interesting summer to take some next steps legislatively toward a better, more consumer-friendly health care system.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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