Member-owned plans get $160M boost from HHS


Hoping to help get member-owned health plans up and running, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has provided more than $160 million in grants to two new plans in Massachusetts and Tennessee.

The HHS grants will help the plans, also known as consumer operated and oriented plans (CO-OPs), create new non-profit insurance carriers, reported The Hill's Healthwatch.

Established under the reform law, CO-OPs are owned and directed by customers and designed to offer more affordable, consumer-friendly insurance options, HHS said in a fact sheet announcing the new funds. The plans must reinvest their profits into providing better care or decreasing premiums.

Minutemen Health Initiative in Massachusetts, which is run by Tufts Medical Center and other healthcare organizations, received almost $88.5 million. Tennessee's Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Co., which is sponsored by Healthcare 21 Business Coalition, won $73.3 million.

Beginning January 2014, the Minutemen Health Initiative hopes to offer coverage to individuals and small business through the Massachusetts insurance exchange. Members of the health plan will elect a board of directors and also help design the coverage options, according to The Boston Globe.

"Consumers who are members of this plan will ultimately participate and be in control of the governance long-term," said Ellen Zane, former chief executive of Tufts Medical Center and chairwoman of the plan's starting board.

The Community Health Alliance also plans to provide health coverage throughout Tennessee, although it hasn't yet released many details about the plan.

To learn more:
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- see the Boston Globe article
- check out the HHS fact sheet

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