September 30, 2010                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Montana Insurance Commissioner awarded federal grant to plan for health insurance Exchange


      Helena, MT- Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen announced today that her office was awarded a federal grant to plan for the establishment of a Montana Health Benefit Exchange. The grant is part of a $49 million federal grant to states to conduct research and planning needed to improve the health insurance marketplace and set up state Exchanges. Montana is one of forty-eight states to receive $1 million in grant funds to begin the planning process. Additional funding is expected to support implementation of the Exchange. Under the new federal law, all states must have an Exchange operational by January 1, 2014.
      
      "My office has been gearing up to receive this grant and to begin the planning process." Lindeen said. "Earlier this month, I established a stakeholder council so we can start compiling ideas on the best way to design the Exchange for consumers. My goal is to create an Exchange that will provide low-cost, easy to buy insurance for Montana families."
      
      In the grant proposal, the Commissioner's office will conduct and oversee background research detailing Montana's population by a person's insurance policy type, price and carrier. A large portion of the funding will go into an assessment of technology needs because the Exchange will combine numerous existing programs into a single place for consumers to shop for insurance products.
      
      To view the grant proposal, visit www.csi.mt.gov.
      
      The first meeting of the Exchange Stakeholder Involvement Council will be October 7, 2010 at 1:30pm in room 152 of the State Capitol.