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Merkley, Wyden Announce $48 Million to Help Oregonians Purchase Health Insurance through Online Exchange

February 17, 2011


Washington, D.C. –
Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced Thursday that Oregon will receive over $48 million to pioneer a new online health care exchange that will allow Oregonians to compare, purchase, and enroll in private health insurance plans. State based exchanges are a result of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and allow individuals and small-business owners to pool their purchasing power to negotiate lower rates.  The Oregon Health Authority estimates that 516,000 Medicaid clients and 277,000 commercial insurance consumers will use the Health Insurance Exchange to shop for and enroll in health coverage.

“Oregon has a reputation for innovation in health care.  This grant is a vote of confidence in our state’s leadership in developing the health information technology backbone needed to operate the exchange,” Merkley said.  “When completed, the exchange will help Oregonians compare private health insurance plans and enroll in the plan that best fits their situation as well as provide a template for other states to follow.”

“Once again Oregon is at the forefront of healthcare innovation and they are being rewarded for it,” Wyden said. “These funds will help the state build the technological infrastructure they need to operate top flight healthcare exchanges that will provide high quality health care options for Oregon residents when the healthcare law goes on line in 2014. A program like this is also further proof that states should be encouraged to innovate now while the health care exchanges are being created and be ready to hit the ground running in 2014 with something that works best for their residents.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, other states receiving grants include Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and a multi-state consortia led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Starting in 2014, exchanges will enable individuals and small employers to shop for, select, and enroll in high-quality, affordable private health plans that fit their individual needs at competitive prices.  By providing a place for one-stop shopping, exchanges will make purchasing health insurance easier and more consumer-friendly.

Information on how much each state or consortium will receive and how each will use the grant funds is available at www.HealthCare.gov/news/factsheets/exchanges02162011a.html

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