NEWS: The Washington Post: States Scramble to Get Health Care Law’s Insurance Marketplaces Up and Running

August 26, 2013

The Washington Post reports, “With a key deadline approaching, state officials across the country are scrambling to get the Affordable Care Act’s complex computer systems up and running, reviewing contingency plans and, in some places, preparing for delays.” While President Obama insists that “this is working the way it’s supposed to,” and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claims, “the implementation of this is fabulous,” the facts paint a much more troubling picture. According to the Post report, “Some officials in charge of setting up the systems say that the tight deadlines have forced them to take shortcuts when it comes to testing and that some of the bells and whistles will not be ready.”  With less than six weeks remaining before the exchanges are scheduled to open, there is little reason to be confident in the security, quality, or functionality of Obamacare or those implementing the law.

States Scramble to Get Health Care Law’s Insurance Marketplaces Up and Running
August 24, 2013

With a key deadline approaching, state officials across the country are scrambling to get the Affordable Care Act’s complex computer systems up and running, reviewing contingency plans and, in some places, preparing for delays.

Oct. 1 is the scheduled launch date for the health-care law’s insurance marketplaces — online sites where uninsured people will be able to shop for coverage, sometimes using a government subsidy to purchase a plan. An estimated 7 million people are expected to use these portals to purchase health coverage in 2014.

The task is unprecedented in its complexity, requiring state and federal data systems to transmit reams of information between one another. Some officials in charge of setting up the systems say that the tight deadlines have forced them to take shortcuts when it comes to testing and that some of the bells and whistles will not be ready.

“There’s a certain level of panic about how much needs to be accomplished but a general sense that the bare minimum to get the system functional will be done,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “It will by no means be as smooth and as seamless as people expected.”

Oregon announced this month that it will delay consumers’ direct access to its marketplace, opening the Web site only to brokers and consumer-assistance agents in order to shield consumers from opening-day glitches.

“Even though we’re testing now, once you actually have the system up, you don’t know what the bugs will be,” said Amy Fauver, spokeswoman for Cover Oregon, the state agency implementing the law there.

In California, which has the nation’s largest uninsured population, health officials have begun hinting that they may have a similar problem.

“It’s a complex system, and there’s a lot of navigation that needs to happen,” said Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesman for Covered California. He said the agency will know by early September whether the system will be ready in time.

If not, he said, customers will still be able to log on to the Web site and peruse insurance plans and view prices. When they get to the final step, however, they will not be able to sign up. They will have to contact a customer service representative to complete the final enrollment step. …

Read the complete story online here.

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