KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Oregon, Oracle Officials Thought They Might Have A Federal Exchange Fix

Emails show that a former Oregon official believed in early October that the state's troubled exchange was just weeks away from a fix that might also be used to rescue the federal website, reports The Oregonian. Meanwhile, Fox News writes about an announcement by contractor Accenture that it will cost $121 million to get the federal exchange site ready for a second open enrollment and MNsure makes coverage retroactive for some people.

The Oregonian: Oracle, State IT Official Contemplated Cover Oregon As Rescue For Beleaguered Federal Health Insurance Exchange
The date was Oct. 19, 2013 and Oregon's health exchange website was 19 days late. Yet, state technology workers and their counterparts at Oracle were convinced they were on the right track, so much so that they discussed making their technology available to the federal government to rescue the fed's then-struggling exchange site. "How is Oregon's exchange looking?  Any possibility it could be the answer to an overhaul," Oracle executive Donna-Mae Shyduik asked in an email. "I think it could be," answered Caroline Lawson, then chief information officer of the Oregon Health Authority (Manning, 4/29).

Fox News: Accenture Says ObamaCare Website Fix Will Cost $121M
The contractor hired to fix the ObamaCare exchange website announced Tuesday that it would cost $121 million to get the site ready for a second open enrollment period in 2015. In a statement posted on its website, Accenture Federal Services said the contract it had agreed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) covers initial repair work, as well as "enhancing back-end capabilities to improve issuer payments and plan management including deploying new features." The agreement runs until January 10, 2015. Accenture was tapped to repair the glitch-laden site this past January 11 after CGI Federal, the original contractor in charge of the site, was fired (4/30).

The Pioneer Press:  MNsure Coverage To Be Retroactive In Some Cases
MNsure announced two new options Tuesday for select groups of consumers to purchase coverage in the coming weeks through the state's new health insurance marketplace. The options are intended to help people who either struggled with technical problems while trying to buy on MNsure in the past seven months or skipped the insurance exchange altogether and purchased policies directly from insurance companies (Snowbeck, 4/29).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure Offers Retroactive Coverage For Some
Consumers who lost out on federal health insurance subsidies because of MNsure's troubled website now have a way to recoup those discounts if they act by May 15. Many frustrated consumers stymied by MNsure's online problems ditched the health insurance marketplace and applied for health coverage directly through insurance companies. But that that made them ineligible for premium tax credits (Stawicki, 4/29).

And on other exchanges -

The Associated Press: Deadline Arrives To Enroll In Health Plan In DC
District of Columbia residents who've yet to enroll in a health insurance plan are facing a final deadline. Wednesday is the last day that people can sign up for insurance without having to pay a tax penalty under the federal health care overhaul (4/30).

The Seattle Times:  Healthplanfinder Site Fixes Potential Password Problem
The folks who run the Washington Healthplanfinder online exchange heard about several consumers who said that when they needed a new password from the website, the password was emailed to them in plain text — making it relatively easy to viewed by anyone intercepting the e-mail.  They were concerned about the security of that practice. I checked with Curt Kwak, chief information officer of the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, which operates the site, regarding their password policies (Marshall, 4/29).

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