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September 22, 2014

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Nevada clears hurdle in implementing health exchange system

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Mona Shield Payne

Two-year-old Miles Russell II takes a tour of the Martin Luther King Health Center with his dad, Miles Russell, during its opening Monday, June 11, 2012, in Las Vegas. The Affordable Care Act included $728 million in grants for community health centers like the Martin Luther King Health Center, which expects to treat 11,000 patients annually.

The federal government has conditionally approved Nevada's plan to set up an information system for consumers and small businesses to compare health insurance plans as required by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The goal of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange is to increase the number of people covered by health insurance.

The approval came Thursday from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is financing the initial planning and development.

Silver State is working with Xerox State Health to develop consumer entry points — the Internet enrollment website and the customer call center to be located in Las Vegas and employ about 50 people.

The exchange will open in October and health insurance policies purchased before Dec. 15 will start coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.

It will provide side-by-side comparisons of health insurance plans.

The exchange estimates there are 588,000 uninsured Nevadans under age 65. By May 1, 2014, its target is to have 118,000 people enrolled.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said, "Nevada's exchange will provide residents of our state with a marketplace to shop for, compare and purchase qualified health insurance plans in accordance with the Affordable Care Act."

So far 17 states and the District of Columbia have received conditional approval to operate these plans.

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