After Five Days, Covered California Website Restarts; Md. Fires Exchange Contractor
Also in the news, the latest developments regarding the online insurance marketplaces in Connecticut, Oregon, Minnesota and California.
Los Angeles Times: California Website For Obamacare Back Up After 5-Day Outage
California's enrollment website for Obamacare coverage was restored Monday after a five-day outage due to software problems. The online troubles frustrated many consumers, enrollment counselors and insurance agents who wanted to use the Covered California website. The state had been signing up more than 7,000 people per day, on average, in February. The online enrollment system went down late Wednesday and the state continued to work on it throughout the weekend (Terhune and Karlamangla, 2/24).
The Washington Post: Maryland Fires Contractor That Built Troubled Health Insurance Exchange
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted late Sunday to terminate its $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions. Columbia-based Optum/QSSI, which the state hired in December to help repair the flawed exchange, will become the prime contractor, and Noridian will assist with the transition (Flaherty and Johnson, 2/24).
The Baltimore Sun: State Terminates Contracts With Health Exchange Firm
Maryland has terminated its contracts with the company hired to build and operate the state’s online health exchange, which has been riddled with problems since its launch in October. The board overseeing the exchange voted Sunday night to sever ties with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, and the state reserves the right to take the company to court for damages, officials said Monday (Cox and Dance, 2/24).
The New York Times: Connecticut Plans to Market Health Exchange Expertise
Connecticut has been so successful in getting people to sign up for health insurance through its online marketplace that it is setting up a consulting business to help other states build and operate websites where people can compare and buy private insurance policies. And the Obama administration has encouraged the effort, in the hope that more states will run their own exchanges in 2015 or 2016 (Pear, 2/24).
The Oregonian: Manager Who Oversaw Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Project Blasted State Managers For 'Misinformation'
Carolyn Lawson, the state information-technology official who was asked to resign over problems with the health insurance exchange in December, has declined to comment publicly ever since. Privately, though, she has plenty to say, judging by an e-mail obtained under Oregon Public Records Law. On Jan. 19 Lawson complained to state managers that she has been unfairly criticized by Oregon Health Authority leadership even though she kept her boss, Bruce Goldberg, fully informed. Lawson did as she was told, she said – such as publicly parroting inaccurate OHA talking points, and writing a scripted letter of resignation that portrayed her departure as voluntary (Budnick, 2/24).
Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure, Other Exchanges Near Enrollment Deadline
MNsure, along with other state health insurance exchanges, continue to struggle to overcome bad reviews and technical delays. MNsure recently axed the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ads and is now spending $266,000 on new television ads like this one to encourage enrollment. The open enrollment period ends at the end of March (2/24).
The Star Tribune: Minnesota Poll: Party Split Felt Over MNsure, Health Reform
Minnesotans remain divided along party lines over the federal health law and whether the state should keep its troubled online insurance exchange, MNsure. Half of Minnesotans think their health care situation will be the same or better under the new law, according to the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll. About one in five said their situation will improve. But 46 percent of those polled believe their health situation will be worse under the law (Crosby, 2/25).
The California Health Report: Latino Participation In Covered California Lags; Monterey Region Agencies Boost Outreach
Magnolia Zarraga hadn’t had health coverage since graduating from Alisal High School in 1996. Between the lapse in coverage and her pre-existing conditions, she was quoted $900 per month for private insurance. “That wasn’t doable,” she says. Last month, she enrolled in a subsidized “silver” plan for $230 per month through Covered California, the state’s health-care marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although she found the process fairly easy, Zarraga, a Salinas-based immigration attorney, sees the need for more outreach to the Latino community, particularly those with language or accessibility barriers (Abraham , 2/24).