Massachusetts To Scrap Insurance Exchange Site Amid Glitches
Massachusetts officials announced Monday that the state will scrap its glitch-plagued health insurance exchange website in favor of a "dual-track strategy" that will use off-the-shelf software to create a new site while simultaneously preparing to transition to HealthCare.gov if development takes too long, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 5/5).
When Massachusetts began updating its state-run exchange site to comply with the Affordable Care Act, the state started to encounter issues with its site, including difficulties determining enrollees' eligibility, the Wall Street Journal reports (Kamp, Wall Street Journal, 5/5).
The state eventually dropped the website's original contractor, CGI Federal, but still is negotiating the details of its $69 million contract with the company. Overall, the state received $174 million in federal funding for the website, of which it has spent $57 million (Goodnough, New York Times, 5/5).
Sarah Iselin, the state official tasked with overseeing the website's construction, and UnitedHealthcare's Optum technology unit will present the new, dual-track plan to the state exchange's board of directors on Thursday (The Hill, 5/5).
State officials on Monday announced that they had hired hCentive, a Virginia-based contractor that helped build the exchanges in Kentucky and Colorado. The contractor is scheduled to roll out basic functions by fall, in anticipation of the November 15 start to the second open enrollment period, and then upgrade the site afterwards as needed.
However, state officials acknowledged that hCentive might not be able to complete its work in that time frame. As a result, the state is simultaneously working to shift to the federal health insurance exchange as a backup plan (Cheney, Politico, 5/5). According to the Journal, the state could use HealthCare.gov for up to a year, depending on how long it takes to build its own exchange (Wall Street Journal, 5/6).
Iselin said that the new dual-track plan likely would cost the state about $100 million through 2015. However, she said it was too soon to say whether the state would pursue additional federal funding for its construction, noting that would depend on whether the state owes any more money to CGI Federal.
Iselin added that the state would select "the most viable path" by midsummer (New York Times, 5/5).
Iselin said that the dual track plan "certainly has its benefits and its challenges," but it does "solve for two realities: we need a reliable website to help people during the next open enrollment period, and we need to be in a position to achieve a fully integrated system in 2015" (The Hill, 5/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.