Skip Navigation

State Planning & Establishment Grants for the Affordable Care Act’s Exchanges

Pre-Application Conference Call
August 25, 2010
2:00 pm ET

Operator:

Welcome and thank you for standing by. I would just like to inform all participants that today’s call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

Your lines have been placed in a listen only mode, until the question and answer session of today’s conference.

I will now like to turn the meeting over to Ms. Nancy De Lew. Ma’am you may begin.

Nancy De Lew:

Great. Thank you. My name is Nancy De Lew. I’m with the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and I would like to welcome everyone to this call.

It’s our second call regarding the Exchange State Planning and Establishment Grants.

We hope you found that our last call helpful and that you have come ready to ask any questions you may have about the application process.

As we stated on our last call, states may use the Exchange Planning Grant Fund to determine whether or not you wish to proceed with the Health Insurance Exchange.

These funds are specifically for planning activities related to setting up a Health Insurance Exchange and they cannot be used for other purposes.

Again, we appreciate that states are in different places in your planning and I want to emphasize that states are not competing against each other for these grants.

Every state has the opportunity to apply for up to $1 million for Exchange Planning Activities and we do encourage all states to apply.

We will use the majority of this call today to take questions and provide answers related to the applications.

I want to reiterate, that it’s very important that you log into grants.gov, if you have not yet done so, to familiarize yourself with the application.

If you can, please try to apply early, just in case you have any problems with the application.

As a reminder, all applications are due on September 1 by 11:59 pm. However, we don’t want you to wait till anywhere near that deadline. We want you folks to submit applications early. We would encourage you to get started early.

I’m going to turn the balance of our time here over to two of my colleagues, Donna Laverdiere and Michelle Feagins, to address some of the questions that we’ve received from states over the last two weeks, and when they’re done reviewing the questions that we’ve received we will open the call to your questions today.

So I’m going to turn the microphone, if you will, over to Donna.

Donna Laverdiere:

Thanks Nancy. We received a number of questions from states about the Grant Applications and I just want to go over a few of the questions that have come up more than one.

One question in particular, relates to the statement on Page 5 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, which says, “That states can use the Exchange Grant Funds to compliment activities funded under the Consumer Assistance Grant.”

To clarify this, states may utilize Exchange Grant Funds to complement the Consumer Assistance Grants, but they may not be used to carry out duplicate activities.

For any activities that serve a dual purpose for both programs, for example, a call center, the budget must clearly identify the total cost of the activities and clearly identify what portion of those funds that’s being funded by our grant, the Exchange Grant.

That amount must be justified by corresponding activities that relate to the specific purpose of the grant. And please feel free to ask any further questions about this during the Q&A period of the call.

Next, some states have asked to whom the letter from the Governor should be addressed. That letter should be addressed to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

We’ve also received some questions on the content needed and the work plan and time line for the grant. Please insure that when you layout your project goals and objectives for the year, that you tie these activities to the content you’ve provided in the project narrative.

We need to see that you have linked these two areas of the application. Also, we’ve been asked if there’s any template for submitting the work plan and time line and there is no set template for that submission.

We’ve also received some questions related to utilizing existing staff to carry out the planning activities under the grant. You can use existing staff; just make sure that you accurately account for their time in your budget.

And now, I’m going to turn to Michelle Feagins who has some points she’d like to make related to the application.

Michelle Feagins:

Thank you Donna. We’ve received questions in relating to the font size. There isn’t a required font size.

If you are allocating FTO - if you are not allocating FTEs and fringe benefits you are not required to estimate the cost on your budget.

The only assurance document that is required for this application is the SF424B Assurance Document.

Donna Laverdiere:

Okay. Now we’ve like to open up the call to questions and I just want to let you know, that we have Judy Ceresa here from grants.gov who will also assist with answering questions related to the Grants.gov system.

And please say your name and state before you ask your question. Operator, we’d like to take questions.

Operator:

Thank you. At this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone keypad. That is star 1 to ask a question.

Please ensure you phone is unmuted and record your name at the prompt.

One moment please.

Our first question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. Thank you. [caller name] from the State of Missouri. On Attachment C, it says, there’s a blank - it says, “Grant Award” and there’s a blank. Is that a line item that does - the applicant - the state is supposed to fill out or do we leave that blank?

The space is allowed- what’s supposed to go there?

Michelle Feagins:

The requesting funding amount that you’re asking for.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi there. I know that the earliest that the grants would be announced would be, I believe, September 30, but it also says that grant funding may not come out until March 2011.

In terms of planning, both realistically, logistically planning, getting everything done and also planning in the grant, should we go with the September 30 date or with a March 2011 date?

Nancy De Lew:

I’m happy to address that. As you note, in the cover of the Exchange Grant Solicitation that we’ve put, the application due date. I just want to review the date.

The application due date is September 1, 2010. We anticipate making a Notice of Grant Awards September 30. Those funds are for the entire 12 month period that beings on September 30.

So, the funds can be used between September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2011. So, therefore that entire 12 month period.

We will have a second round solicitation for grants coming on next spring. We do not have the month. We don’t have a decision on the month yet in terms of when that grant announcement will be coming out, but those funds will be, as we noted on the first call, those will be for establishing and implementing an exchange and those funds will be - determine the amount which will be determined based on the state applications.

So, just to be clear, you have a year to use to the funds that you requested with this solicitation. We will have a second solicitation coming out next spring and we will have more calls between now and next spring talking about the second solicitation.

Does that answer your question?

Caller:

Yes, that’s incredibly helpful. And I actually just have one more budget related question.

We are, obviously have not commissioned some of the consulting services that we’re going to need to think through a lot of the more technical aspects of establishing the exchange and consulting services can run, you know, a range of costs.

And so, in our proposed budget, we’re looking at doing a low and a high, but I know that in previous grant applications it’s been a very strict, you have to ask for $1 million.

If our proposed budget goes a high and a low, but in our Request Letter and in our Grant Narrative we ask for $1 million. Is that appropriate or is the budget not going to be acceptable?

Nancy De Lew:

What I would suggest you do, is to make your best estimate now of the costs that you think you may incur over that year, for the forthcoming year. You can request up to a $1 million now.

This is the only time where you can make that request for these particular funds. So, I don’t think you want to give us a high and a low.

Caller:

Okay, so give an exact amount?

Nancy De Lew:

Give us an exact amount. And use your best judgment now in terms of how you intend to use those funds. We appreciate that there a number of states who may not have entered into consulting agreements yet, so you may not know the exact amount of a particular agreement, with - you know, with a given consultant, so make your best estimates.

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah, and you do have an opportunity to come in and request a change in your budget and you have the flexibility to make changes in your budget within 25% of the total amount.

So you would just need to contact us and let us know that you’re changing your budget if you find that estimate was inaccurate.

Nancy De Lew:

Right. And let’s just be clear, that’s reallocating funds in your existing budget, so it’s not asking for any additional funds. That’s the point we want to be very clear about.

Caller:

Okay, and we can reallocate any - at any point in the budget, the 12 month period?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay.

Donna Laverdiere:

But you have to come for a prior approval.

Caller:

Okay. Right.

Nancy De Lew:

So the point now is ask for what you think you need. You can reallocate later. But what you can’t do, is come back in and ask for additional funds.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi, this is [caller name] with the Department of Insurance in North Carolina.

As a follow up to that last question, in regards to the reallocations, you said that if we are reallocating - we can reallocate up to 25%, but we need prior approval on any reallocation? Is that correct?

Donna Laverdiere:

We do want you to contact us if you are changing your budget, but it’s not necessarily prior approval, unless it’s over 25%.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you. I appreciate that clarification. The other issue that I’d like to ask a question has to do with the part of the application, that I think it’s the supplemental attachments to the application, where you ask about - hang on a minute, I’m turning to the page, the letters of agreement and descriptions of proposed existing projects.

I don’t know if other states are in a similar situation as North Carolina, but we expect that, while the Department of Insurance is the entity in North Carolina who is applying for the grant, we expect that our North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will use some of the funds themselves.

So, we would understand that we need to have some sort of an agreement with them in order to share these funds with them, is that correct?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay. And can you elaborate a little bit on what you would expect that letter of agreement to detail and does it actually have to be signed by the time we submit the application or can it be a pending agreement?

Michelle Feagins:

No, it has to be signed when you submit your application.

Caller:

Okay. Is there any specifics as to what you expect that agreement to say or...?

Michelle Feagins:

We just need agreement from the two parties saying that you guys are going to partner to complete this project.

Caller:

Okay. All right. Thank you very much. That’s it.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from West Virginia. I have actually three questions kind of pertaining to the physical application on grants.gov. The first one is, where should documents like the support letter, application, or cover sheet be attached? We currently have them under the other attachment files, but this makes them out of the required sequence for materials. Is this the right place?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, you can attach those documents to that - to the other attachment file.

Caller:

Okay. My question is, what are the required additional assurance certifications?

Michelle Feagins:

At this point, we don’t have no additional assurance certifications. The only assurance document we’re requiring is the SF424B Assurance document.

Caller:

Okay. The last question is, when we hit the submit button, whether it be a request for additional information or is this the final step in submission?

Michelle Feagins:

I’m not....

Judy Ceresa:

I’m sorry. Can you say that again. This is Judy Ceresa from grants.gov.

Caller:

When we hit save and submit, is there going to be some sort of prompt with more information that we need to be ready with or was that the actual physical asset?

Judy Ceresa:

No that’s the last step, but you will - you also - you’ll get feedback from the system.

Caller:

Sure.

Judy Ceresa:

In other words, if your submission errors, you’ll know at that time. You’ll also get, if it doesn’t error, you’ll get an email with the grants.gov tracking number and you want to make sure you keep that number, because you may need it for future reference if you have any problems down the road.

And also, what you’ll get right away, is you’ll get an email from grants.gov saying that they have received your application and that you will get a second email telling you, whether or not, it passed the validation.

You’ll get a third email telling you that the agency, in this case OCIIO, has received your application. So expect to get three emails after you hit save and submit.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you. And just to clarify, the required sequence for materials seems to be pretty strict in the outline, but that’s not exactly true, correct?

Michelle Feagins:

The - yeah, I would say that’s correct.

Caller:

Okay. Just double checking, just double checking. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Yes, thank you. I’m calling from the great state of Nevada. A couple of my questions were just answered, but I have a few more.

On the actual application SF424, should I have a federal entity identifier at this time in Box 5A?

Michelle Feagins:

No you shouldn’t, because you don’t have an existing award.

Caller:

Okay. That’s what I thought. We do not have any letters of agreement, because we’ll just be doing this grant within our division, so we’re just making a statement that we don’t have any for the grant, but we will be preparing an RFP for contractual services. Is that correct?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, that’s acceptable.

Caller:

Okay. In terms of the proposed project period number 17, it sounded like we should put from 9/30/2010 to 9/30/2011 and not start it on 10/1 or...?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, ma’am that’s correct.

Caller:

Okay. Let’s see - and then, oh - and then the last question, attachment B, application attestation, I went ahead and typed that out and then at the bottom there was Yes, No, Yes, No, for three questions and you know, put the answers and then made that a PDF to attach. Is that correct?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay. That’s all I had. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from Oregon and this may seem like an obvious question, but I noticed that the - that there’s the time line and the work plan and the work plan is required to have a time line - have timing attached to it.

So I guess I’m wondering if you have any advice on what the time line should look like other than what it’s going to look like in the work plan?

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah, I think if you wanted to combine them into one document that would be fine. Whatever you feel is easiest for you in terms of expressing what your goals and objectives are with associated timing.

Caller:

Okay.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. [caller name] from Maryland. I have three quick questions for you. One is sort of technical. On the SF424A, I just wanted to be sure, since different departments handle this form a bit differently.

The global amount of the grant is really all that goes in 424A broken down into object class codes. Is that right?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

We don’t have separate activities here? Those are detailed in the budget narrative?

Michelle Feagins:

Right. That’s absolutely correct.

Caller:

Great. So it’s just the one left hand column on Page 1A that gets filled out, for example.

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Great. Limit on attachments and appendices, did I miss that? I mean, obviously you don’t want a 120 page planning report or something like that, but do you have a sense of limits for things that we might attach, demonstrate things that have been underway in the state?

Donna Laverdiere:

We don’t have a limit.

Caller:

Okay. Just our good judgment then. And the last question has to do with a time line and it’s really just a repeat of a previous plea. As we’re working out the time line, obviously a lot of the time line depends on when the implementation plan has to be ready to apply for the implementation grant funding.

And for those of us who need to go through an RFP and procurement process, meeting an early deadline is going to be difficult. Has there been any decision made about multiple receipt dates for the implementation grant?

Nancy De Lew:

We have not made a decision about that yet.

Caller:

Okay, may I encourage that as an option please? And that’s it.

Nancy De Lew:

We take your suggestion.

Caller:

Thank you very much.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. And your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. [caller name] from Florida. I just wanted to confirm. I know you said that the work plan and timeline didn’t have a set form, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t included in the total page count?

Donna Laverdiere:

No, it is not.

Caller:

Okay. Thanks. That’s all I want.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

[caller name] state of Florida. I had a question as it related to the grant award of the maximum amount of $1 million. In the total for the whole grant is $51 million.

If you do not allocate the whole $51 million, will the states have an opportunity to apply for more?

Nancy De Lew:

No, we had that question on the first call. What we have available is up to $1 million per each state.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from North Dakota. I just have a question to clarify some language about the project narrative. On Page 10 of the instruction document, it says that the following topics must be included and then it also goes onto describe what it may include.

I just wanted to clarify that every bullet item on that list is a required topic to be addressed, is that correct?

Nancy De Lew:

Correct.

Caller:

Okay.

Nancy De Lew:

And what we have after each bullet, are suggestions of things you might consider...

Caller:

Okay. That makes sense.

Nancy De Lew:

...in responding. Yeah.

Caller:

One other quick question I have, is on the timeline and work plan. Does that have to be a separate document or if we have room, can we work that into our project narrative?

Donna Laverdiere:

We would like that to be a separate document.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thanks. [caller name] from New York State. I have a question on the organizational chart and job descriptions for key personnel. We anticipate that we are going to use some of this grant funding to hire additional staff dedicated to work strictly on this project, but there are other existing staff spending a portion of their time on that.

Is that - do you want to have just the folks who will be funded fully through the grant or are you looking for any existing staff that we’re using with current state funds as well?

Donna Laverdiere:

We would like you to cover both groups of people.

Caller:

Okay. And then, a second question on that, with the organizational chart, we’re one of the many states that have a gubernatorial election. Is that going to be something that we’ll be allowed to change - be allowed to update, should the next administration want to make a change to the way the organizational structure is set up?

Donna Laverdiere:

Yes, absolutely.

Nancy De Lew:

Right. And let me just expound on that a little bit, meaning we know that a number of states have elections coming up and there well - may be, you know, many new governors, etc. in the states.

So what we had said in the first call, and I just want to underscore the point here, we’re asking you to use your best judgment in filling out the application with what you know now. If there’s a change in leadership in a state and you - and the new leadership decides they want to go in a different direction, you know, you can come in and ask for a change to your...

Donna Laverdiere:

...a key proposal.

Nancy De Lew:

...right, key proposal. That would include key personnel. It might include reallocating some of the budget. So we are happy to work with states, you know, when that may occur for various states.

So don’t worry about that now. In other words, use your best judgment and fill out the form now.

Caller:

Okay. Great. And I have one follow up question. I’m sorry. For putting in the grant lead for the application, I’m wondering is that, for example, right now I’m the designated state lead for New York State. Again, I work directly for the governor, likely to be a change.

We also have designated leads for the exchange and for Medicaid. And again, I just want to make sure that it’s - that there will be an opportunity to change that as well?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes, there will be.

Caller:

Right. Thank you.

Operator:

I’m showing no further questions at this time. As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone keypad.

Nancy De Lew:

Okay. I’m going to make some closing remarks. This is Nancy De Lew again and if people have, you know, if a question occurs to anyone while I’m doing that, please ask the question, ‘cause we really want to make sure we’ve answered all the questions that states may have today.

I want to thank everyone for participating on this second call relating to the Exchange Planning Grants. I also want to let everyone on the call know, that Donna Laverdiere who has been with us on this call today and who is listed on the Grant Solicitation, will be out of the office for several weeks.

And in her place, Carrie Skura will be taking questions, so I’m going to give you Carrie’s email and her phone number, in case you need to get in touch with us and if any state has any problems filling out the applications, getting the grants.gov to work, etc., please let us know.

So Carrie Skura her phone number is 301-492-4100. Her email is carrie.skura@hhs.gov. And I’m going to give you her phone number one more time, to make sure people have it. Her phone number is 301-492-4100.

And again, we would rather hear early if anyone has any problems in filling out the application, than hear late, that there’s been in problem and it’s after the - you know, after the grant solicitation is due.

The other point I want to underscore, is we don’t have any grants. We haven’t received any grants yet. We are very eager to get grants in, so I want to encourage everyone to apply early.

I want to make a couple of points regarding that. First is, you need to complete the registration process for submitting applications in grants.gov. It’s very important that do this now, if you’ve not done it already.

If for some reason, you’ve not obtained, your DUNS number at this time, please contact Michelle Feagins after this call. Her contact information is on the grant solicitation.

She also is available at that phone number that I gave you earlier. That’s our general office number and you can get Michelle or Carrie at that number. A recording of this call will be available in approximately 24 hours on our website.

Our website is www.hhs.gov/ociio and a transcript of this call will be available on that same Web site in approximately 48 hours.

I would like to thank everyone for participating on that call. We look forward to receiving and reviewing your applications and most important, we look forward to working with you as you engage in the planning activities at the Health Insurance Exchange.

So let me ask the operator, let me just ask if there are any additional questions that might have come in before we close this call?

Operator:

Yes, we do have a few more questions.

Nancy De Lew:

Sure. That’s great. Let’s take the additional questions.

Operator:

The first question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thank you. Sorry to follow up with one more question. It’s really kind of a minor thing. But under the project abstract summary in the application itself, at the bottom, it is a required field regarding the estimated number of people to be served as a result of the - as the support of this grant.

In as much as this is a planning grant, do you really expect us to project what would eventually be served by the implementation of an Exchange? Is that your intent?

Nancy De Lew:

We’d like you to give us your best estimate. We understand that it’s - it could well be, you know, an estimate.

Caller:

That’s fine.

Nancy De Lew:

So we appreciate your best estimate.

Caller:

Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

The next question comes from a [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Yes, this is [caller name] from Ohio. I want to go back to a question that was asked earlier about the grant period. For example, if we have an invoice that comes in two weeks after September 30, 2011, can we still pay that invoice with the grant’s funds?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, it came after the grant period. So if your invoice comes after - I’m sorry...

Caller:

Go ahead.

Michelle Feagins:

If your invoice comes after the start of your Notice of a Grant Award, yes you can use grant funds to pass...

Nancy De Lew:

But you said 2011, so you mean...

Michelle Feagins:

Oh, I thought they said 2010.

Nancy De Lew:

No, she said 2011. So let’s be - let’s just clarify.

Michelle Feagins:

Right.

Nancy De Lew:

So, if an invoice comes in September 30 - October 15 for example...

Caller:

Right. Right.

Nancy De Lew:

...about two weeks after the start of the grant period. The grant period states September 30, 2010, so if an invoice comes in two weeks later, Michelle...

Michelle Feagins:

Two weeks later yes.

Caller:

No, no, I’m sorry. If, for example, you’re at the tail end of next year and services rendered mid September, but we don’t receive the invoice until right after the end - the grant period closes, will I...

Nancy De Lew:

We got you. We misunderstood it.

Michelle Feagins:

And in answer to your question, I’m so sorry, is that then so the services have already been completed, yes you can pay your grant - you can use grant funds to pay for those services.

Caller:

Okay.

Michelle Feagins:

Yeah.

Caller:

Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Right, but the test is when the service was incurred...

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Nancy De Lew:

...that’s the test.

Caller:

Great. That’s very helpful. And then one other clarifying point and [caller name] is going to jump in here around the agreement that...

Caller:

Yeah, this is [caller name] from Ohio. If we do - we plan in Ohio to - between the Department of Insurance and our Ohio Medicaid Program to work together on this and we will have to enter a formal interagency agreement that we don’t believe will be ready by the time we submit the grant.

Could we submit a letter signed by both our agency heads that we plan to work together and cooperate in accordance with what we’ve submitted? And then enter into later the formal financial arrangements that we would have between our two agencies that would be consistent with the grant...

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

...application. Would that be, okay.

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. I just have a very, very brief question. There are certain parts of the application, there’s a project narrative that require us to discuss, obviously finance, business operations. And I think as part of our grant, I mean, we literally took a lot of the things that you guys suggested and added to that and said that we intend to discuss those aspects, but obviously beyond that, we’re still working on, you know, what would be involved with discussing them, including understanding all the different policy implications and such.

How much detail do you expect the project narrative needs to go into, aside from saying, yes we intend to discuss all of these and ten other things on this time line?

Nancy De Lew:

Right. I guess I would say, you know, on Page 10 on the grant solicitation, we say the project narrative may be no more than 15 pages in length. So that’s an outside amount of pages. It doesn’t have to be 15 pages in length. That’s not a minimum. That’s a maximum.

We’d like you to do you - make your best effort at describing what you intend to do for each of these topics, background research, stakeholder involvement, etc.

We don’t have a minimum length for your project narrative. We’d like you - you need to be able to support your budget request.

Caller:

Okay.

Nancy De Lew:

Do you know what I mean? You need to tell us what you plan to do in your project narrative and how that ties to your budget request.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from Louisiana. And I just wanted to clarify, ‘cause I thought maybe I heard two different answers to the same question, but maybe I just didn’t quite get it.

In talking about staff - the cost of staff that are already funded but will be contributing to the project, do we or do we not need to acknowledge those costs?

Nancy De Lew:

If you want to use part of your million dollars to cover, I’m assuming you’re applying for a million. I’m must making that up. Let’s say you want to apply for a million dollar grant.

If you want to use some of those funds to cover the costs of existing staff, we need you to tell us that and give us an estimate of how much you think you would spend on existing staff and how much you might spend on new staff if you plan to hire any new staff.

Caller:

Okay. I understand. I just wanted to make sure we didn’t have to account for in kind, which is what we are looking at. Not - we don’t use the grant funds for it.

Michelle Feagins:

No cost sharing is not a requirement here.

Caller:

Okay. Great. That’s it. Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thanks. [caller name] New York State. If - my question relates to the agreements that are required. We are exploring, whether or not, we will be able to use a not-for-profit that’s affiliated with the state, but is not a state entity in order to do things like hire the staff, but that is a decision that will come after we’re in receipt of the grant and we work with our state comptroller on that.

So, is it expected that we would have an agreement in place before we submit our application, indicating that if it’s approved by our state comptroller we would go this route or is that something that we would be able to do after the fact?

Michelle Feagins:

You can do that after the fact, but I don’t know if we’re talking about the same things about a contract or entering into an agreement with a partner.

Caller:

This would be a contract that we would have with. It’s not a state entity, so it would be a contract that we would enter into.

Michelle Feagins:

Okay. That’s fine. We understand if you don’t know who the contractor might be, so that the case here, is once you find out, you have to come in with prior approval to let us know.

Caller:

Okay. And so if - because it’s a situation where we - again we won’t know.

Michelle Feagins:

Right.

Caller:

So, it will be in - it will be either - people will be employed directly by the state, in which case, we wouldn’t need an agreement or, we will do a contract and so we would just come in afterwards. I just want to...

Michelle Feagins:

Yeah.

Caller:

Okay. Great. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line’s open.

Caller:

Hello. How are you all doing today?

Donna Laverdiere:

Fine.

Caller:

Arkansas Insurance Department. We’re in the final mode prior to submission, so I want to clarify on what I heard while ago on the box at the bottom of the project abstract summary.

We had put zero, because it was a planning grant. Am I now hearing that we should do an estimate of potential people served? Is that what you said while ago?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, to be consistent. Yes, we want an estimate for all the applicants yes.

Caller:

Okay. So if we have - if we assume that most of our state population is going to be affected by the ultimate exchange one way or another, is it a fair assumption to utilize those numbers?

Nancy De Lew:

No we don’t want you to - we’re not asking grantees, potential grantees to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the right number might be on this box.

It’s a box on the form. It’s a standard part of the application. So we’d like you to just make your best estimate of what that might be, but that’s not where you want you to spend the bulk of your time between now and when you send the form in.

Caller:

All right. Thank you much.

Operator:

And the next question comes from [caller name]. Your line’s open.

Caller:

Hello. [caller name] from the State of Connecticut. What is the threshold to know, whether or not, a state needs to have interagency agreements? Is it only when money needs to be moved from one agency to another for the other agency to pay a contractor or is it more at just the working together level?

Nancy De Lew:

Well, I think - we would defer to what your state rules are about when you need an interagency agreement in your state. We are not prescribing, you know, when you need an interagency agreement, per se. I assume each state has its own rules on when you need an interagency agreement.

What we’re suggesting here, is that if one department in a state wants to be the applicant for these funds and wants to work with another department, for example, in a state, that there’s a letter of agreement.

You know, where you - in your grant application, you’re asking for funding for each of those departments. We want to see a letter of agreement that each department is going to be participating in the grant and using funds for those, you know, for the purposes of the planning grant.

Is that clear?

Caller:

I - it is, but I just need to clarify further. Then, if the lead agency will be the only one issuing funds or paying bills, so to speak, then do you not need the interagency agreements since the lead agency will be the only one monitoring the actual funding?

Michelle Feagins:

Well, yes that’s definitely correct, because we only - with the Federal Government, we only have our ties with the primary recipient. So it’s up to the lead agency to disseminate that funding out, trickle down out to the contractors or the subgrantees.

Nancy De Lew:

So if you have a primary agency in Connecticut who’s going to be receiving the funds, you’re going to be administering all of those funds. You’re going to be spending those funds and you want to work in partnership with another agency in your state, that’s great.

Caller:

Okay. Great. Thank you very much.

Operator:

I’m showing no further questions at this time.

Nancy De Lew:

Okay. Then I’ll do a short version of the summary that I did earlier, meaning that I don’t want to belabor everyone’s time.

I would like to thank everyone for being on the call. I will reiterate one more the time the phone number, in case anyone has additional questions or has any problems in filing their applications.

It’s 301-492-4100. Carrie Skura will handle the Program questions. Michelle Feagins will handle the other grant questions.

So, we would like to encourage everyone on the call to apply for the Planning Grant Funds and we look forward to working with you over the course of the year.

Operator:

Thank you. That concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time.

END

 

August 25, 2010
2:00 pm ET

Operator:

Welcome and thank you for standing by. I would just like to inform all participants that today’s call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

Your lines have been placed in a listen only mode, until the question and answer session of today’s conference.

I will now like to turn the meeting over to Ms. Nancy De Lew. Ma’am you may begin.

Nancy De Lew:

Great. Thank you. My name is Nancy De Lew. I’m with the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and I would like to welcome everyone to this call.

It’s our second call regarding the Exchange State Planning and Establishment Grants.

We hope you found that our last call helpful and that you have come ready to ask any questions you may have about the application process.

As we stated on our last call, states may use the Exchange Planning Grant Fund to determine whether or not you wish to proceed with the Health Insurance Exchange.

These funds are specifically for planning activities related to setting up a Health Insurance Exchange and they cannot be used for other purposes.

Again, we appreciate that states are in different places in your planning and I want to emphasize that states are not competing against each other for these grants.

Every state has the opportunity to apply for up to $1 million for Exchange Planning Activities and we do encourage all states to apply.

We will use the majority of this call today to take questions and provide answers related to the applications.

I want to reiterate, that it’s very important that you log into grants.gov, if you have not yet done so, to familiarize yourself with the application.

If you can, please try to apply early, just in case you have any problems with the application.

As a reminder, all applications are due on September 1 by 11:59 pm. However, we don’t want you to wait till anywhere near that deadline. We want you folks to submit applications early. We would encourage you to get started early.

I’m going to turn the balance of our time here over to two of my colleagues, Donna Laverdiere and Michelle Feagins, to address some of the questions that we’ve received from states over the last two weeks, and when they’re done reviewing the questions that we’ve received we will open the call to your questions today.

So I’m going to turn the microphone, if you will, over to Donna.

Donna Laverdiere:

Thanks Nancy. We received a number of questions from states about the Grant Applications and I just want to go over a few of the questions that have come up more than one.

One question in particular, relates to the statement on Page 5 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, which says, “That states can use the Exchange Grant Funds to compliment activities funded under the Consumer Assistance Grant.”

To clarify this, states may utilize Exchange Grant Funds to complement the Consumer Assistance Grants, but they may not be used to carry out duplicate activities.

For any activities that serve a dual purpose for both programs, for example, a call center, the budget must clearly identify the total cost of the activities and clearly identify what portion of those funds that’s being funded by our grant, the Exchange Grant.

That amount must be justified by corresponding activities that relate to the specific purpose of the grant. And please feel free to ask any further questions about this during the Q&A period of the call.

Next, some states have asked to whom the letter from the Governor should be addressed. That letter should be addressed to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

We’ve also received some questions on the content needed and the work plan and time line for the grant. Please insure that when you layout your project goals and objectives for the year, that you tie these activities to the content you’ve provided in the project narrative.

We need to see that you have linked these two areas of the application. Also, we’ve been asked if there’s any template for submitting the work plan and time line and there is no set template for that submission.

We’ve also received some questions related to utilizing existing staff to carry out the planning activities under the grant. You can use existing staff; just make sure that you accurately account for their time in your budget.

And now, I’m going to turn to Michelle Feagins who has some points she’d like to make related to the application.

Michelle Feagins:

Thank you Donna. We’ve received questions in relating to the font size. There isn’t a required font size.

If you are allocating FTO - if you are not allocating FTEs and fringe benefits you are not required to estimate the cost on your budget.

The only assurance document that is required for this application is the SF424B Assurance Document.

Donna Laverdiere:

Okay. Now we’ve like to open up the call to questions and I just want to let you know, that we have Judy Ceresa here from grants.gov who will also assist with answering questions related to the Grants.gov system.

And please say your name and state before you ask your question. Operator, we’d like to take questions.

Operator:

Thank you. At this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone keypad. That is star 1 to ask a question.

Please ensure you phone is unmuted and record your name at the prompt.

One moment please.

Our first question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. Thank you. [caller name] from the State of Missouri. On Attachment C, it says, there’s a blank - it says, “Grant Award” and there’s a blank. Is that a line item that does - the applicant - the state is supposed to fill out or do we leave that blank?

The space is allowed- what’s supposed to go there?

Michelle Feagins:

The requesting funding amount that you’re asking for.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi there. I know that the earliest that the grants would be announced would be, I believe, September 30, but it also says that grant funding may not come out until March 2011.

In terms of planning, both realistically, logistically planning, getting everything done and also planning in the grant, should we go with the September 30 date or with a March 2011 date?

Nancy De Lew:

I’m happy to address that. As you note, in the cover of the Exchange Grant Solicitation that we’ve put, the application due date. I just want to review the date.

The application due date is September 1, 2010. We anticipate making a Notice of Grant Awards September 30. Those funds are for the entire 12 month period that beings on September 30.

So, the funds can be used between September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2011. So, therefore that entire 12 month period.

We will have a second round solicitation for grants coming on next spring. We do not have the month. We don’t have a decision on the month yet in terms of when that grant announcement will be coming out, but those funds will be, as we noted on the first call, those will be for establishing and implementing an exchange and those funds will be - determine the amount which will be determined based on the state applications.

So, just to be clear, you have a year to use to the funds that you requested with this solicitation. We will have a second solicitation coming out next spring and we will have more calls between now and next spring talking about the second solicitation.

Does that answer your question?

Caller:

Yes, that’s incredibly helpful. And I actually just have one more budget related question.

We are, obviously have not commissioned some of the consulting services that we’re going to need to think through a lot of the more technical aspects of establishing the exchange and consulting services can run, you know, a range of costs.

And so, in our proposed budget, we’re looking at doing a low and a high, but I know that in previous grant applications it’s been a very strict, you have to ask for $1 million.

If our proposed budget goes a high and a low, but in our Request Letter and in our Grant Narrative we ask for $1 million. Is that appropriate or is the budget not going to be acceptable?

Nancy De Lew:

What I would suggest you do, is to make your best estimate now of the costs that you think you may incur over that year, for the forthcoming year. You can request up to a $1 million now.

This is the only time where you can make that request for these particular funds. So, I don’t think you want to give us a high and a low.

Caller:

Okay, so give an exact amount?

Nancy De Lew:

Give us an exact amount. And use your best judgment now in terms of how you intend to use those funds. We appreciate that there a number of states who may not have entered into consulting agreements yet, so you may not know the exact amount of a particular agreement, with - you know, with a given consultant, so make your best estimates.

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah, and you do have an opportunity to come in and request a change in your budget and you have the flexibility to make changes in your budget within 25% of the total amount.

So you would just need to contact us and let us know that you’re changing your budget if you find that estimate was inaccurate.

Nancy De Lew:

Right. And let’s just be clear, that’s reallocating funds in your existing budget, so it’s not asking for any additional funds. That’s the point we want to be very clear about.

Caller:

Okay, and we can reallocate any - at any point in the budget, the 12 month period?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay.

Donna Laverdiere:

But you have to come for a prior approval.

Caller:

Okay. Right.

Nancy De Lew:

So the point now is ask for what you think you need. You can reallocate later. But what you can’t do, is come back in and ask for additional funds.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi, this is [caller name] with the Department of Insurance in North Carolina.

As a follow up to that last question, in regards to the reallocations, you said that if we are reallocating - we can reallocate up to 25%, but we need prior approval on any reallocation? Is that correct?

Donna Laverdiere:

We do want you to contact us if you are changing your budget, but it’s not necessarily prior approval, unless it’s over 25%.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you. I appreciate that clarification. The other issue that I’d like to ask a question has to do with the part of the application, that I think it’s the supplemental attachments to the application, where you ask about - hang on a minute, I’m turning to the page, the letters of agreement and descriptions of proposed existing projects.

I don’t know if other states are in a similar situation as North Carolina, but we expect that, while the Department of Insurance is the entity in North Carolina who is applying for the grant, we expect that our North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will use some of the funds themselves.

So, we would understand that we need to have some sort of an agreement with them in order to share these funds with them, is that correct?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay. And can you elaborate a little bit on what you would expect that letter of agreement to detail and does it actually have to be signed by the time we submit the application or can it be a pending agreement?

Michelle Feagins:

No, it has to be signed when you submit your application.

Caller:

Okay. Is there any specifics as to what you expect that agreement to say or...?

Michelle Feagins:

We just need agreement from the two parties saying that you guys are going to partner to complete this project.

Caller:

Okay. All right. Thank you very much. That’s it.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from West Virginia. I have actually three questions kind of pertaining to the physical application on grants.gov. The first one is, where should documents like the support letter, application, or cover sheet be attached? We currently have them under the other attachment files, but this makes them out of the required sequence for materials. Is this the right place?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, you can attach those documents to that - to the other attachment file.

Caller:

Okay. My question is, what are the required additional assurance certifications?

Michelle Feagins:

At this point, we don’t have no additional assurance certifications. The only assurance document we’re requiring is the SF424B Assurance document.

Caller:

Okay. The last question is, when we hit the submit button, whether it be a request for additional information or is this the final step in submission?

Michelle Feagins:

I’m not....

Judy Ceresa:

I’m sorry. Can you say that again. This is Judy Ceresa from grants.gov.

Caller:

When we hit save and submit, is there going to be some sort of prompt with more information that we need to be ready with or was that the actual physical asset?

Judy Ceresa:

No that’s the last step, but you will - you also - you’ll get feedback from the system.

Caller:

Sure.

Judy Ceresa:

In other words, if your submission errors, you’ll know at that time. You’ll also get, if it doesn’t error, you’ll get an email with the grants.gov tracking number and you want to make sure you keep that number, because you may need it for future reference if you have any problems down the road.

And also, what you’ll get right away, is you’ll get an email from grants.gov saying that they have received your application and that you will get a second email telling you, whether or not, it passed the validation.

You’ll get a third email telling you that the agency, in this case OCIIO, has received your application. So expect to get three emails after you hit save and submit.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you. And just to clarify, the required sequence for materials seems to be pretty strict in the outline, but that’s not exactly true, correct?

Michelle Feagins:

The - yeah, I would say that’s correct.

Caller:

Okay. Just double checking, just double checking. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Yes, thank you. I’m calling from the great state of Nevada. A couple of my questions were just answered, but I have a few more.

On the actual application SF424, should I have a federal entity identifier at this time in Box 5A?

Michelle Feagins:

No you shouldn’t, because you don’t have an existing award.

Caller:

Okay. That’s what I thought. We do not have any letters of agreement, because we’ll just be doing this grant within our division, so we’re just making a statement that we don’t have any for the grant, but we will be preparing an RFP for contractual services. Is that correct?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, that’s acceptable.

Caller:

Okay. In terms of the proposed project period number 17, it sounded like we should put from 9/30/2010 to 9/30/2011 and not start it on 10/1 or...?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, ma’am that’s correct.

Caller:

Okay. Let’s see - and then, oh - and then the last question, attachment B, application attestation, I went ahead and typed that out and then at the bottom there was Yes, No, Yes, No, for three questions and you know, put the answers and then made that a PDF to attach. Is that correct?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Okay. That’s all I had. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from Oregon and this may seem like an obvious question, but I noticed that the - that there’s the time line and the work plan and the work plan is required to have a time line - have timing attached to it.

So I guess I’m wondering if you have any advice on what the time line should look like other than what it’s going to look like in the work plan?

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah, I think if you wanted to combine them into one document that would be fine. Whatever you feel is easiest for you in terms of expressing what your goals and objectives are with associated timing.

Caller:

Okay.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. [caller name] from Maryland. I have three quick questions for you. One is sort of technical. On the SF424A, I just wanted to be sure, since different departments handle this form a bit differently.

The global amount of the grant is really all that goes in 424A broken down into object class codes. Is that right?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

We don’t have separate activities here? Those are detailed in the budget narrative?

Michelle Feagins:

Right. That’s absolutely correct.

Caller:

Great. So it’s just the one left hand column on Page 1A that gets filled out, for example.

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Great. Limit on attachments and appendices, did I miss that? I mean, obviously you don’t want a 120 page planning report or something like that, but do you have a sense of limits for things that we might attach, demonstrate things that have been underway in the state?

Donna Laverdiere:

We don’t have a limit.

Caller:

Okay. Just our good judgment then. And the last question has to do with a time line and it’s really just a repeat of a previous plea. As we’re working out the time line, obviously a lot of the time line depends on when the implementation plan has to be ready to apply for the implementation grant funding.

And for those of us who need to go through an RFP and procurement process, meeting an early deadline is going to be difficult. Has there been any decision made about multiple receipt dates for the implementation grant?

Nancy De Lew:

We have not made a decision about that yet.

Caller:

Okay, may I encourage that as an option please? And that’s it.

Nancy De Lew:

We take your suggestion.

Caller:

Thank you very much.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. And your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. [caller name] from Florida. I just wanted to confirm. I know you said that the work plan and timeline didn’t have a set form, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t included in the total page count?

Donna Laverdiere:

No, it is not.

Caller:

Okay. Thanks. That’s all I want.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

[caller name] state of Florida. I had a question as it related to the grant award of the maximum amount of $1 million. In the total for the whole grant is $51 million.

If you do not allocate the whole $51 million, will the states have an opportunity to apply for more?

Nancy De Lew:

No, we had that question on the first call. What we have available is up to $1 million per each state.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Donna Laverdiere:

Yeah.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from North Dakota. I just have a question to clarify some language about the project narrative. On Page 10 of the instruction document, it says that the following topics must be included and then it also goes onto describe what it may include.

I just wanted to clarify that every bullet item on that list is a required topic to be addressed, is that correct?

Nancy De Lew:

Correct.

Caller:

Okay.

Nancy De Lew:

And what we have after each bullet, are suggestions of things you might consider...

Caller:

Okay. That makes sense.

Nancy De Lew:

...in responding. Yeah.

Caller:

One other quick question I have, is on the timeline and work plan. Does that have to be a separate document or if we have room, can we work that into our project narrative?

Donna Laverdiere:

We would like that to be a separate document.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thanks. [caller name] from New York State. I have a question on the organizational chart and job descriptions for key personnel. We anticipate that we are going to use some of this grant funding to hire additional staff dedicated to work strictly on this project, but there are other existing staff spending a portion of their time on that.

Is that - do you want to have just the folks who will be funded fully through the grant or are you looking for any existing staff that we’re using with current state funds as well?

Donna Laverdiere:

We would like you to cover both groups of people.

Caller:

Okay. And then, a second question on that, with the organizational chart, we’re one of the many states that have a gubernatorial election. Is that going to be something that we’ll be allowed to change - be allowed to update, should the next administration want to make a change to the way the organizational structure is set up?

Donna Laverdiere:

Yes, absolutely.

Nancy De Lew:

Right. And let me just expound on that a little bit, meaning we know that a number of states have elections coming up and there well - may be, you know, many new governors, etc. in the states.

So what we had said in the first call, and I just want to underscore the point here, we’re asking you to use your best judgment in filling out the application with what you know now. If there’s a change in leadership in a state and you - and the new leadership decides they want to go in a different direction, you know, you can come in and ask for a change to your...

Donna Laverdiere:

...a key proposal.

Nancy De Lew:

...right, key proposal. That would include key personnel. It might include reallocating some of the budget. So we are happy to work with states, you know, when that may occur for various states.

So don’t worry about that now. In other words, use your best judgment and fill out the form now.

Caller:

Okay. Great. And I have one follow up question. I’m sorry. For putting in the grant lead for the application, I’m wondering is that, for example, right now I’m the designated state lead for New York State. Again, I work directly for the governor, likely to be a change.

We also have designated leads for the exchange and for Medicaid. And again, I just want to make sure that it’s - that there will be an opportunity to change that as well?

Nancy De Lew:

Yes, there will be.

Caller:

Right. Thank you.

Operator:

I’m showing no further questions at this time. As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone keypad.

Nancy De Lew:

Okay. I’m going to make some closing remarks. This is Nancy De Lew again and if people have, you know, if a question occurs to anyone while I’m doing that, please ask the question, ‘cause we really want to make sure we’ve answered all the questions that states may have today.

I want to thank everyone for participating on this second call relating to the Exchange Planning Grants. I also want to let everyone on the call know, that Donna Laverdiere who has been with us on this call today and who is listed on the Grant Solicitation, will be out of the office for several weeks.

And in her place, Carrie Skura will be taking questions, so I’m going to give you Carrie’s email and her phone number, in case you need to get in touch with us and if any state has any problems filling out the applications, getting the grants.gov to work, etc., please let us know.

So Carrie Skura her phone number is 301-492-4100. Her email is carrie.skura@hhs.gov. And I’m going to give you her phone number one more time, to make sure people have it. Her phone number is 301-492-4100.

And again, we would rather hear early if anyone has any problems in filling out the application, than hear late, that there’s been in problem and it’s after the - you know, after the grant solicitation is due.

The other point I want to underscore, is we don’t have any grants. We haven’t received any grants yet. We are very eager to get grants in, so I want to encourage everyone to apply early.

I want to make a couple of points regarding that. First is, you need to complete the registration process for submitting applications in grants.gov. It’s very important that do this now, if you’ve not done it already.

If for some reason, you’ve not obtained, your DUNS number at this time, please contact Michelle Feagins after this call. Her contact information is on the grant solicitation.

She also is available at that phone number that I gave you earlier. That’s our general office number and you can get Michelle or Carrie at that number. A recording of this call will be available in approximately 24 hours on our website.

Our website is www.hhs.gov/ociio and a transcript of this call will be available on that same Web site in approximately 48 hours.

I would like to thank everyone for participating on that call. We look forward to receiving and reviewing your applications and most important, we look forward to working with you as you engage in the planning activities at the Health Insurance Exchange.

So let me ask the operator, let me just ask if there are any additional questions that might have come in before we close this call?

Operator:

Yes, we do have a few more questions.

Nancy De Lew:

Sure. That’s great. Let’s take the additional questions.

Operator:

The first question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thank you. Sorry to follow up with one more question. It’s really kind of a minor thing. But under the project abstract summary in the application itself, at the bottom, it is a required field regarding the estimated number of people to be served as a result of the - as the support of this grant.

In as much as this is a planning grant, do you really expect us to project what would eventually be served by the implementation of an Exchange? Is that your intent?

Nancy De Lew:

We’d like you to give us your best estimate. We understand that it’s - it could well be, you know, an estimate.

Caller:

That’s fine.

Nancy De Lew:

So we appreciate your best estimate.

Caller:

Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Yeah.

Operator:

The next question comes from a [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Yes, this is [caller name] from Ohio. I want to go back to a question that was asked earlier about the grant period. For example, if we have an invoice that comes in two weeks after September 30, 2011, can we still pay that invoice with the grant’s funds?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, it came after the grant period. So if your invoice comes after - I’m sorry...

Caller:

Go ahead.

Michelle Feagins:

If your invoice comes after the start of your Notice of a Grant Award, yes you can use grant funds to pass...

Nancy De Lew:

But you said 2011, so you mean...

Michelle Feagins:

Oh, I thought they said 2010.

Nancy De Lew:

No, she said 2011. So let’s be - let’s just clarify.

Michelle Feagins:

Right.

Nancy De Lew:

So, if an invoice comes in September 30 - October 15 for example...

Caller:

Right. Right.

Nancy De Lew:

...about two weeks after the start of the grant period. The grant period states September 30, 2010, so if an invoice comes in two weeks later, Michelle...

Michelle Feagins:

Two weeks later yes.

Caller:

No, no, I’m sorry. If, for example, you’re at the tail end of next year and services rendered mid September, but we don’t receive the invoice until right after the end - the grant period closes, will I...

Nancy De Lew:

We got you. We misunderstood it.

Michelle Feagins:

And in answer to your question, I’m so sorry, is that then so the services have already been completed, yes you can pay your grant - you can use grant funds to pay for those services.

Caller:

Okay.

Michelle Feagins:

Yeah.

Caller:

Thank you.

Nancy De Lew:

Right, but the test is when the service was incurred...

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Nancy De Lew:

...that’s the test.

Caller:

Great. That’s very helpful. And then one other clarifying point and [caller name] is going to jump in here around the agreement that...

Caller:

Yeah, this is [caller name] from Ohio. If we do - we plan in Ohio to - between the Department of Insurance and our Ohio Medicaid Program to work together on this and we will have to enter a formal interagency agreement that we don’t believe will be ready by the time we submit the grant.

Could we submit a letter signed by both our agency heads that we plan to work together and cooperate in accordance with what we’ve submitted? And then enter into later the formal financial arrangements that we would have between our two agencies that would be consistent with the grant...

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

...application. Would that be, okay.

Michelle Feagins:

Yes.

Caller:

Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. I just have a very, very brief question. There are certain parts of the application, there’s a project narrative that require us to discuss, obviously finance, business operations. And I think as part of our grant, I mean, we literally took a lot of the things that you guys suggested and added to that and said that we intend to discuss those aspects, but obviously beyond that, we’re still working on, you know, what would be involved with discussing them, including understanding all the different policy implications and such.

How much detail do you expect the project narrative needs to go into, aside from saying, yes we intend to discuss all of these and ten other things on this time line?

Nancy De Lew:

Right. I guess I would say, you know, on Page 10 on the grant solicitation, we say the project narrative may be no more than 15 pages in length. So that’s an outside amount of pages. It doesn’t have to be 15 pages in length. That’s not a minimum. That’s a maximum.

We’d like you to do you - make your best effort at describing what you intend to do for each of these topics, background research, stakeholder involvement, etc.

We don’t have a minimum length for your project narrative. We’d like you - you need to be able to support your budget request.

Caller:

Okay.

Nancy De Lew:

Do you know what I mean? You need to tell us what you plan to do in your project narrative and how that ties to your budget request.

Caller:

Okay. Thank you.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Hi. This is [caller name] from Louisiana. And I just wanted to clarify, ‘cause I thought maybe I heard two different answers to the same question, but maybe I just didn’t quite get it.

In talking about staff - the cost of staff that are already funded but will be contributing to the project, do we or do we not need to acknowledge those costs?

Nancy De Lew:

If you want to use part of your million dollars to cover, I’m assuming you’re applying for a million. I’m must making that up. Let’s say you want to apply for a million dollar grant.

If you want to use some of those funds to cover the costs of existing staff, we need you to tell us that and give us an estimate of how much you think you would spend on existing staff and how much you might spend on new staff if you plan to hire any new staff.

Caller:

Okay. I understand. I just wanted to make sure we didn’t have to account for in kind, which is what we are looking at. Not - we don’t use the grant funds for it.

Michelle Feagins:

No cost sharing is not a requirement here.

Caller:

Okay. Great. That’s it. Thank you.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line is open.

Caller:

Thanks. [caller name] New York State. If - my question relates to the agreements that are required. We are exploring, whether or not, we will be able to use a not-for-profit that’s affiliated with the state, but is not a state entity in order to do things like hire the staff, but that is a decision that will come after we’re in receipt of the grant and we work with our state comptroller on that.

So, is it expected that we would have an agreement in place before we submit our application, indicating that if it’s approved by our state comptroller we would go this route or is that something that we would be able to do after the fact?

Michelle Feagins:

You can do that after the fact, but I don’t know if we’re talking about the same things about a contract or entering into an agreement with a partner.

Caller:

This would be a contract that we would have with. It’s not a state entity, so it would be a contract that we would enter into.

Michelle Feagins:

Okay. That’s fine. We understand if you don’t know who the contractor might be, so that the case here, is once you find out, you have to come in with prior approval to let us know.

Caller:

Okay. And so if - because it’s a situation where we - again we won’t know.

Michelle Feagins:

Right.

Caller:

So, it will be in - it will be either - people will be employed directly by the state, in which case, we wouldn’t need an agreement or, we will do a contract and so we would just come in afterwards. I just want to...

Michelle Feagins:

Yeah.

Caller:

Okay. Great. Thank you very much.

Michelle Feagins:

You’re welcome.

Operator:

Our next question comes from [caller name]. Your line’s open.

Caller:

Hello. How are you all doing today?

Donna Laverdiere:

Fine.

Caller:

Arkansas Insurance Department. We’re in the final mode prior to submission, so I want to clarify on what I heard while ago on the box at the bottom of the project abstract summary.

We had put zero, because it was a planning grant. Am I now hearing that we should do an estimate of potential people served? Is that what you said while ago?

Michelle Feagins:

Yes, to be consistent. Yes, we want an estimate for all the applicants yes.

Caller:

Okay. So if we have - if we assume that most of our state population is going to be affected by the ultimate exchange one way or another, is it a fair assumption to utilize those numbers?

Nancy De Lew:

No we don’t want you to - we’re not asking grantees, potential grantees to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the right number might be on this box.

It’s a box on the form. It’s a standard part of the application. So we’d like you to just make your best estimate of what that might be, but that’s not where you want you to spend the bulk of your time between now and when you send the form in.

Caller:

All right. Thank you much.

Operator:

And the next question comes from [caller name]. Your line’s open.

Caller:

Hello. [caller name] from the State of Connecticut. What is the threshold to know, whether or not, a state needs to have interagency agreements? Is it only when money needs to be moved from one agency to another for the other agency to pay a contractor or is it more at just the working together level?

Nancy De Lew:

Well, I think - we would defer to what your state rules are about when you need an interagency agreement in your state. We are not prescribing, you know, when you need an interagency agreement, per se. I assume each state has its own rules on when you need an interagency agreement.

What we’re suggesting here, is that if one department in a state wants to be the applicant for these funds and wants to work with another department, for example, in a state, that there’s a letter of agreement.

You know, where you - in your grant application, you’re asking for funding for each of those departments. We want to see a letter of agreement that each department is going to be participating in the grant and using funds for those, you know, for the purposes of the planning grant.

Is that clear?

Caller:

I - it is, but I just need to clarify further. Then, if the lead agency will be the only one issuing funds or paying bills, so to speak, then do you not need the interagency agreements since the lead agency will be the only one monitoring the actual funding?

Michelle Feagins:

Well, yes that’s definitely correct, because we only - with the Federal Government, we only have our ties with the primary recipient. So it’s up to the lead agency to disseminate that funding out, trickle down out to the contractors or the subgrantees.

Nancy De Lew:

So if you have a primary agency in Connecticut who’s going to be receiving the funds, you’re going to be administering all of those funds. You’re going to be spending those funds and you want to work in partnership with another agency in your state, that’s great.

Caller:

Okay. Great. Thank you very much.

Operator:

I’m showing no further questions at this time.

Nancy De Lew:

Okay. Then I’ll do a short version of the summary that I did earlier, meaning that I don’t want to belabor everyone’s time.

I would like to thank everyone for being on the call. I will reiterate one more the time the phone number, in case anyone has additional questions or has any problems in filing their applications.

It’s 301-492-4100. Carrie Skura will handle the Program questions. Michelle Feagins will handle the other grant questions.

So, we would like to encourage everyone on the call to apply for the Planning Grant Funds and we look forward to working with you over the course of the year.

Operator:

Thank you. That concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time.

END