KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Cutting Ties With Insurance Exchange Website Vendor After Problems

The contractor, CGI Group, is also the lead contractor on the federal marketplace website.

The Wall Street Journal: Massachusetts To Cut Ties With CGI Group Over Troubled Online Health Exchange
Massachusetts officials said Monday they have begun work to sever the state's relationship with CGI Group Inc., the company behind the state's troubled online health-insurance exchange. Massachusetts' 2006 comprehensive health-coverage law inspired the federal law that followed a few years later. But overhauling the state's online system to comply with the federal law's different rules has proved daunting for Massachusetts, where tens of thousands of people have had trouble signing up for care because of problems with the site (Kamp, 3/17).

The Associated Press: Massachusetts To Dump Health Website Contractor
Massachusetts planned to cut ties with the contractor for its hobbled health care insurance website, state officials said Monday. CGI Group, a Montreal-based information technology firm, was also the lead contractor on the troubled federal health care website. The state hired the company last year to facilitate the state’s transitionfrom its first-in-the-nation universal health insurance program to the new requirements in the federal Affordable Care Act (Salsberg, 3/17).

WBUR: Mass. To Drop Contractor Behind Flawed Health Insurance Website
Massachusetts is negotiating an end to its contract with CGI, the Canadian vendor that built the state’s flawed health insurance website. The site was supposed to be up last October, offering one-stop health insurance shopping for anyone in Massachusetts. But six months later, only a few functions work but have glitches, and a few are not usable at all (Bebinger, 3/17).

Elsewhere, Colorado's and Oregon's exchanges are examined --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Local Control Key To Colorado Exchange’s (Moderate) Success
Being an early adopter can be rewarding. Remember how amazing it was to have the first iPhone? But then, sometimes early adopters pay a price, like that early version of the Apple map tool that led to some wrong turns. Colorado is one of 14 states going through their own version of this with the health law (Whitney, 3/18). 

The Denver Post: Colorado Health Exchange Workers Are Paid More Than Similar Positions In Three Other States
One-fifth of the employees of Colorado's health care exchange made more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses -- with the executive director's pay exceeding $190,000 in 2013, exchange records show. And nearly half of the 36 exchange employees make more than $80,000 a year (Kane, 3/18).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Carolyn Lawson Considers Suing State, Cites "Systematic Pattern Of Defaming"
Carolyn Lawson, the self-described "scapegoat" in the state's health exchange debacle, filed notice Monday she is considering suing the state for wrongful discharge, defamation and other charges. Lawson is the former chief information officer for the Oregon Health Authority who oversaw the Oregon health exchange project. In a five-page letter to the state she claims she was forced out after she refused to participate in the "cover-up" intended by the state to protect Cover Oregon, the public corporation overseeing the troubled health exchange (Manning, 3/17).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Dysfunctional Oracle Relationship Attracting Broader Press Attention
The technology trade press is getting increasingly interested in the travails of Cover Oregon and the inability of its primary technology contractor to build a functional health exchange. The Oregonian broke the story Wednesday of a tough new report from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service that calls out both Oracle and the state. Computer World weighed in on Thursday on the findings of the Feb. 27 report (Manning, 3/17).

And California's reaches a milestone --

The San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare: California Health Exchange Tops 1 Million, Big Motivator In Type Of Plan -- Price
With two weeks left to sign up for coverage, California's health insurance exchange announced Monday it has surged past a major milestone -- 1 million enrollments -- well ahead of its March 31 goal. And a new report suggests what may be the biggest motivator for people when they are choosing a new health plan: cost. Insurers like Blue Shield of California and Health Net have seen a major jump in market share, thanks to their competitively low rates, according to a report Monday from the Kaiser Family Foundation, while Anthem Blue Cross' dominance has softened (Seiepel, 3/17).

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