Raleigh, N.C. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday awarded North Carolina $73.9 million to set up a state health insurance exchange under the national Affordable Care Act reforms.
The exchanges are marketplaces where people who don't have employer-sponsored health plans can shop for coverage to meet the law's mandate that everyone have health insurance by 2014.
Former Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration applied for the grants in November, saying North Carolina would pursue a hybrid exchange that would initially rely on federal support, with the state assuming more control as the exchange is adapted over time to meet North Carolina's needs.
The grant is designed to help North Carolina integrate state computer systems with federal data sources to support the exchange, implement a consumer assistance program and determine what functions are needed to transition to a state-operated exchange.
The award is part of $1.5 billion HHS handed out to 11 states to building their exchanges, and it brings North Carolina's total assistance on its project to more than $87 million. The state received a $1 million planning grant in 2010 and a $12.4 million grant last year.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Wednesday that there's no support in the Republican-controlled legislature for either a state-run exchange or the hybrid model, so it's unclear whether North Carolina will accept the latest grant.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who took office last week, has said his administration is still gathering information on the implications of health care reform.