CT Wants Share Of Federal Health-Exchange Funds Sent To UMass Medical School

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Connecticut is angling for a portion of $44.5 million in federal funds awarded to the University of Massachusetts Medical School to create a health-exchange IT framework that other states could use.

In 2011, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the funds, designated seven “early innovators” to design and implement IT frameworks for public health exchanges. The idea was that they would share their technology with other states.

Early innovators are Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and a multi-state consortium led by the UMass Medical School.

UMass proposed a health exchange framework that would serve as Massachusetts’ insurance portal, Massachusetts Health Connector. But the system has had problems and Massachusetts recently fired the contractor hired to develop its health exchange.

In Connecticut, the public health exchange has had relatively fewer technological glitches. Maryland and other states are interested in using the IT framework that powers Connecticut’s exchange, Access Health CT.

“It would be great for us because, right now, we are trying to build our system so we can help some other states that are asking for it,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs the Access Health CT board of directors.

Access Health CT started inquiring a couple of weeks ago about the $44.5 million in grant funding with the hope of getting about $11 million, Wyman said. The money would be used to expand Access Health CT and hire people to make its technological framework available to other states, Wyman said.

Connecticut and the UMass Medical School disagree about the proper distribution of federal funds that UMass Medical School received in two parts: $35.59 million on Feb. 16, 2011, and $8.9 million on March 22, 2012.

“Since it was regional, and since all the governors signed onto it, we would like just a portion of it so that we can do the good work that I think we should be doing to help other states out,” Wyman said.

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About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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