A state-based health insurance exchange in 2014

Maryland has received conditional approval by the federal
government to operate a state-based health insurance exchange in 2014,
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced.

Maryland is among the
first six states to get the approval. The Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services has certified the Maryland Health Connection to
operate for the first plan year in 2014. The agency in the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for overseeing
the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the nation's largest health
insurance programs.

"Our progress has been the result of insurance
producers, carriers, third-party administrators, health care providers,
advocates, and consumers coming together to build a marketplace that
will best meet the needs of individuals and small businesses throughout
Maryland," Brown said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius described it as a significant milestone toward
establishing an exchange in Maryland.

"Conditional approval
reflects the substantial progress the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
has made and an expectation that MHBE will be ready to provide
affordable, quality coverage for consumers and small businesses in
2014," Sebelius said in a statement included in the state's

The other states that received conditional approval are Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will operate Maryland Health
Connection as the online portal where individuals, families and small
businesses will compare health insurance options. It also will enable
them to determine eligibility for tax credits, cost-sharing reductions
and enroll in qualified health plans or public programs, such as
Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, starting in
October 2013 for coverage effective January 2014.

The state says
as many as 150,000 individuals are expected to enroll in qualified
health plans during the first year of operations of the Maryland Health
Benefit Exchange. That is estimated to increase to about 275,000 by

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