Massachusetts exchange is overhauling their ObamaCare exchange, too
posted at 6:41 pm on May 5, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Late last month, Oregon finally decided to cut its losses and dump its disaster of an online ObamaCare exchange, becoming the first of the fourteen states plus D.C. that built their own individualized website to give their failed endeavor the ol’ heave-ho. Barely two weeks later, Massachusetts is almost following in Oregon’s footsteps, via the Boston Herald:
The Patrick administration will hire yet another outside company to try to salvage the state’s disastrous Obamacare website as it tries to avoid the embarrassment of a federal takeover.
Virginia-based hCentive — which has worked on the Colorado and Kentucky Obamacare exchanges — will develop software to fix the Bay State’s site by open enrollment in November, the Massachusetts Health Connector announced. …
The Health Connector did not disclose a price tag for the hiring of hCentive or the cost of the entire project, or how it would be paid for. The state has received $180 million in federal grants to build the state exchange, and it’s unclear whether Massachusetts will ask for more money from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“At this point, I don’t think anyone’s concerned about the price,” said the Connector official. “They just think Uncle CMS is going to pay for it.”
Massachusetts’ exchange website was all kinds of problematic, with its own unique set of glitches requiring time-consuming manual workarounds and putting applicants for subsidized insurance plans into temporary Medicaid holding patterns, all of which slowed down their transition from their state-run healthcare system to fulfilling ObamaCare’s requirements:
The Massachusetts Health Connector website, the state’s version of a health insurance exchange implemented under the national Affordable Care Act, has been plagued with glitches since it became operational in October. …
According to the Health Connector, the automated determination process, through which the Connector figures out what subsidy someone is eligible for and what insurance program they should be in, has not worked. There have been problems in account creation log-in, slow performance, time-outs and sporadic error messages.
Viewpoint: Don’t expect Health Connector to work when you’re expecting
State officials have created workarounds to get people enrolled in insurance plans – using paper applications, call centers and multiple computer systems rather than the automated online system that the state contracted with technology vendor CGI to build.
CGI, you might remember, was also the creator of HealthCare.Gov, but now Massachusetts is ditching the contractor to hire hCentive in a last-ditch effort to salvage things with new software. At the same time, they’re going to be laying the groundwork for joining the federal website, lest they fail to get things fixed before November and the need arise — any bets on that one?