Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in a press conference yesterday that her department was beginning to make available grants to states who begin creating their health insurance exchanges.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandates that every state create an insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses by 2014, or the federal government has the option to do so in that state.

The most recent grants are the second phase of assistance to the states in this area; over the summer HHS made grants available to a number of states that created blueprints for the creation of the exchanges that could be easily copied by their fellow states.  This current round of grants are to be used for the actual creation of exchanges, and will be available to all fifty states and the District of Columbia.  The amount of the grants are not capped and HHS will determined the amounts given based on the state’s plans, and Sebelius did not rule out making multi-year allocations to states.

The grants are expected to not only help states create exchanges, but show which states are moving forward in their PPACA implementation.  Two outside factors could limit how many states apply for the grants.  In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority proposed and passed legislation that would completely repeal the PPACA.  In addition, multiple states have joined a lawsuit that would overturn the PPACA by overturning the law’s individual mandate provision.