KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Hires New Firm To Fix Online Insurance Marketplace

A report blames Massachusetts' online insurance marketplace woes on problems at the firm the state hired to build the website, CGI. Gov. Deval Patrick unveiled a plan Thursday that would hire another firm, while retaining CGI, to make fixes to the site.

The Boston Globe: State Hires Firm For $10 Million To Fix Insurance Website
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a plan Thursday to fix the flawed Massachusetts Health Connector insurance website, by hiring technology firm Optum to fast-track repairs and appointing a chief executive officer to direct the overhaul. The state will continue working with CGI, the firm that built the site, but will keep the company on "a much shorter leash," Patrick said at a Beacon Hill press conference. The online insurance marketplace, relaunched in October to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, has frustrated customers, left some uninsured, and required the state to provide temporary coverage for tens of thousands of people because it could not process enrollment applications (Conaboy, 2/6).

WBUR: Report Blames Mass. Health Website Troubles On Lack Of Leadership, Expertise
In the months after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, officials in Massachusetts started planning for a new Health Connector website that would be compatible with the new federal regulations. UMass Medical School, the Massachusetts Health Connector and MassHealth came together to work on the project. They hired a Canadian firm, CGI, to build the site which launched in October 2013, but "was not fully operational," according to a report released Thursday by the technology firm MITRE. Residents who've tried to apply for insurance through the site use words like "disaster" (Bebinger, 2/7).

WBUR: Can This Woman Fix The Health Connector? Please.
WBUR reports that Gov. Deval Patrick is appointing an executive from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to help fix problems with the state's Health Connector insurance website, which has recently been plagued with technical and other glitches that have frustrated and infuriated users: Blue Cross chief strategy officer Sarah Iselin worked for the state during the rollout of the 2006 health care law. In addition, the state will also hire a Minnesota-based health care systems firm to help with fixes to the Connector site. The governor says Massachusetts residents who are on temporary health insurance coverage will know by next week if they can be moved to a permanent plan. (The temporary plans were needed because of technical problems with the Health Connector website) (Zimmerman, 2/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Massachusetts To Retain Health-Exchange Vendor CGI
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday the state will retain the company behind its online health-insurance exchange but is bringing on additional help after an outside review found problems with the performance of vendor CGI Group Inc. His decision comes after the federal government in January chose not to renew CGI's contract overseeing key parts of, the federal health exchange that got off to a rocky start in October. The site has since seen significant improvement. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chose Accenture as the new lead contractor. CGI's federal contract runs through February (Kamp, 2/6).

The Associated Press: Gov Sees Fix For Failed Mass. Health Website
Gov. Deval Patrick apologized Thursday to frustrated Massachusetts residents who have struggled to sign up for health coverage because of a problem-plagued state website and outlined a series of steps aimed at correcting the glitches. Patrick said his administration may ask the federal government for an extension of a March 31 deadline to transition people from the state's landmark 2006 health care law to the federal health care law that was modeled after Massachusetts' first-in-the-nation program (Salsberg, 2/6).

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