Director Gary Cohen of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) said that HHS is making progress on the logistical and technological aspects of creating a federal insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  CCIIO is charged with helping implement many of the provisions in the ACA and they work closely with governors, state insurance commissioners, consumers, and other stakeholders on this initiative. About 900 insurers have already indicated their interest to market their plans in the online marketplace.

In testimony during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, Mr. Cohen said that officials in the states that declined to set up their own exchange in favor of the federal marketplace are cooperating with CCIIO. However, the Obama administration expects to spend more than twice the projected amount on federal grants to help states set up their own health insurance exchanges under the ACA. HHS officials expect to spend $4.4 billion on the state exchange grants, up from $2 billion that the department expected to spend based on an earlier estimate.

The ACA did not provide funding for HHS to set up the state-based exchanges because Congress assumed that most states would commit to taking on the task themselves. However, just 17 states and Washington, D.C., have been granted approval to run their own exchanges, leaving HHS to assume all or partial control of the remaining states’ exchanges.