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2/13/2013 1:11:00 PM
Feds approve Ill. health exchange

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois has received conditional federal approval for its plan to provide a health insurance marketplace where thousands of state residents will shop for insurance beginning Oct. 1 when open enrollment begins.

This federal approval of the partnership, which was announced in a joint appearance at the Erie Health Center in Chicago today, will allow Illinois to select health insurance carriers and tailor the marketplace to local needs and market conditions.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a conditional approval letter Wednesday to Gov. Pat Quinn with a list of six conditions.

Conditions include signing a memorandum of understanding with the federal government for how the state will monitor and approve health plans sold on the exchange by March 1 and a separate memorandum of understanding for how the state will run consumer outreach activities by April 1.

Sebelius’ letter acknowledges that “Illinois is working under intense timelines.”

The marketplace will be accessed through a website where individuals, families and small businesses will be able to compare health care policies and premiums and purchase comprehensive health coverage. Individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they obtain coverage through the marketplace. Illinois officials estimate that 500,000 people will secure coverage through the marketplace in the first year of operation, and up to one million people will be covered by 2016.

These comprehensive health plans will provide consumers with the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress, and ensure they are not denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Consumers in every state will be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these marketplaces, and may be eligible for tax credits to help pay for their health insurance.

With today’s conditional approval of Illinois, twenty states and the District of Columbia have been conditionally approved to partially or fully run a marketplace – with the remaining states having until Feb. 15, 2013, to apply for a State Partnership Marketplace.

For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov/exchanges.


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