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Vt. receives an additional $42M to help exchange

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The state of Vermont is getting an additional $42 million from the federal government to help set up its new health care exchange that is part of the Affordable Care Act national health care reform law.

The latest grant pushes to more than $150 million the federal contributions Vermont has received as it prepares to launch an online insurance marketplace in October.

Vermont is one of 17 states that have decided to implement their own health exchanges rather than rely on the federal government.

"The fundamental difference (between the exchange and the current system) is the ability to compare options between health insurance carriers and then get financial assistance to pay for that coverage," said Lindsey Tucker, deputy commissioner at the Vermont Department of Health Access. "What Vermont Health Connect does is allow a Vermonter to shop all in one place and have more transparency into what those products are."

Vermont Health Connect will be a marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses in the state can compare public and private health plans and select one that fits their needs and budget. Depending on income, individuals buying on the exchange will be eligible for federal subsidies.

"The funding will help us ensure that information is shared between the website and the call center and our in-person assisters, and that we have the technological and operational capacity to meet Vermonters' needs," said Tucker.