Minnesota has received a $39 million federal grant to help build its new health insurance exchange.

The state is rushing to complete the infrastructure for the new system, which will allow residents and businesses to shop around for health care coverage. The Legislature has until the end of March to approve legislation authorizing the exchange. Minnesotans will begin enrolling in the program starting in October and the entire system is supposed to be up and running by the start of 2014.

“This grant award brings Minnesota one step closer to a state-based health insurance exchange,” Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said in a statement. “This grant will provide the resources Minnesota needs to establish an exchange in time for open enrollment in October 2013.”

Minnesota has recieved more than $70 million in federal grants over the past two years to hire staff and contractors to build the online health insurance marketplace. Minnesota applied for this latest grant, which will be used for technology, maintenance, call center operation and "consumer outreach" last November.

An estimated 1.3 million Minnesotans are expected to use the exchange system, once the federal requirements for mandatory health insurance coverage goes into effect next year. State officials say the exchanges will make shopping for health plans easier and cheaper -- and will help the state identify people eligible for additional assistance programs.

To learn more about the exchange, visit: www.mn.gov/HealthInsuranceExchange

For an overview of insurance exchange grants nationwide, visit here.



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