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Process FAQs for Exchange State Planning and Establishment Grants

Q: What is this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)?

A:  The Affordable Care Act authorized State Planning and Establishment Grants to help States establish health insurance Exchanges. Today, HHS announced the availability of the first round of funding - up to $1 million for each State and the District of Columbia. 

Although state Exchanges are not required to be up and running until 2014, work is already underway to conduct the necessary market research and planning.   These grants will give states the resources to conduct the research and planning needed to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how their Exchanges will be operated and governed. States can use these funds for a variety of initial planning activities including, but not limited to:

  • Assessing current information technology (IT) systems and determining any needs;
  • Planning for consumer call centers to answer questions from their residents;
  • Developing partnerships with community organizations to gain public input into the Exchange planning process. 

For more information, go to and search for CFDA 93.525.

Q: When are applications due?

A: Grant applications must be filed by September 1, 2010

Q:  How will we know if our application has been received by the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight staff?

A:  The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight will confirm that the application has been received as submitted within 24 hours, or the next business day.

Q: What is the CFDA number for these grants?

A: The CFDA is 93.525.

Q: How do I download the application? What do I do if I encounter problems with this process?

A: You can access the electronic application for this project on  You must search the downloadable application page by the CFDA number 93.525.

At the website, you will find information about submitting an application electronically through the site, including the hours of operation.  The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight strongly recommends that you do not wait until the application due date to begin the application process through because of the time delay.

Please see page 6 the FOA for additional information.

Q: What if a state has an ongoing issue with obtaining the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) number or the correct DUNS number?

A:  All applicants must have documentation that includes a case number from CCR or DUNS if delays are experienced in obtaining the required CCR or DUNS number.

Q:  How do we fill out the mandatory document “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities” if we do not have any lobbying activities to disclose?

A: The Lobbying Form has yellow mandatory fields that require the applicants to enter data.  If the applicant institution does not engage in Lobbying activities they can respond to the section Fields #4, #6, and #11 and respond with an N/A for Section Fields 10a & 10b.

Q: Should the documents that are submitted as attachments to be in PDF or Word format?

A: and the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight will accept Word or PDF attachments.  However, should an applicant submit an application and receive an error message regarding the attached documents the first troubleshooting response from OCIIO is to convert the Word attachment into a PDF attachment and then to resubmit the application.  Note: requires each attached file to have a unique file name.

Q: Can you describe the method by which funds will be disbursed to the States if a grant application is approved?

A: Grant funds are disbursed on an ongoing basis to the state upon receipt and approval of a payment request. More detailed instructions for submitting payment requests and the process of approval will be provided in the award letter and the grant terms and conditions.

Q: Who is the point of contact for questions related to these grants?

A: For questions about the grant announcement, please contact:

Michelle Feagins
Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight
Department of Health and Human Services
(301) 492-4312

Q: Is US Mail the only the only way the awardees will be notified of their grant awards?

A: At this time, we will utilize the US Postal Service to notify recipients.

Q: Will HHS provide any guidance or assistance on completing the application process?

A: OCIIO will hold a pre-application conference call for potential applicants. The conference call will provide an overview of this project guidance and will include an opportunity for States to ask questions. The pre-application call information is available in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.