Oregon Public Broadcasting

The federal government announced grants totaling $180 million for six states Wednesday. The money is to help the states set up health insurance exchanges.

Both Oregon and Washington made the list.

Under the health care overhaul, states have been asked to set up their own health insurance exchanges.

Those are expected to be like the Travelocity or Expedia websites. But instead of selling vacations, they'd allow individuals and small businesses to comparison shop for health insurance -- with the kind of buying power bigger businesses enjoy.

Oregon was given $6.5 million.

Richard Onizuka of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange said they'll get $128 million.

"It'll provide for continued development of a sophisticated integrated technology system that will allow for seamless and timely enrollment in health insurance. And then it'll also allow us to finalize work that we're doing right now to brand our exchange and create a marketing and engagement outreach campaign."

So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia have taken the steps necessary to make sure their exchanges are running by 2014. Other states are waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the health care overhaul.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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