The federal health department Thursday announced $1.5 billion innew grants to support states building health insurance exchangesunder the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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California, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan,Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont allreceived funding—either one-year or two-year grants, depending ontheir progress on building the exchanges, the Department of Healthand Human Services said.

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“These states are working to implement the health care law andwe continue to support them as they build new affordable insurancemarketplaces,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.“Starting in 2014, Americans in all states will have access toquality, affordable health insurance and these grants are helpingto make that a reality.”

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Exchanges—or marketplaces—are a central component of PresidentObama’s health reform law. They offer consumers an online one-stopshop to shop for their health insurance. Failure to purchase healthinsurance will result in a penalty beginning next year.

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[Also read: Feds begin marketing push for exchanges]

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A total of 49 states, the District of Columbia, and fourterritories have received grants to plan their marketplaces, and 34states and the District of Columbia have received grants to buildtheir marketplaces, according to HHS.

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Though initially states were supposed to have already notifiedthe government about their decision to run exchanges or defer tothe government, officials have extended deadlines, as somegovernors have expressed their dissatisfaction with a lack ofguidance on how to do so.

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“To ensure states have the support and time they need to build amarketplace, states may apply for grants through the end of 2014and may use funds through their start-up year,” the department saidThursday.

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