KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations Contractors Scramble To Recruit Talent, Continue System Work

Meanwhile, even as efforts are ongoing to address the federal health exchange's back end computer issues, state marketplaces in Maryland, Oregon and Minnesota face challenges.

The New York Times: Creators Still In Demand On Health Care Website
After denigrating the work of CGI and replacing it as the largest contractor on the federal health care website, the Obama administration is negotiating with the company to extend its work on the project for a few months. And the new prime contractor, Accenture, is trying to recruit and hire CGI employees to work under its supervision. The transition between the two companies has interrupted work on the "back end" of the computer system needed to pay insurers, people involved in the project said Tuesday (Pear and Austen, 2/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Md. Lawmaker Wants Probe Of Exchange Procurement
A Maryland lawmaker on Tuesday renewed a call for an investigation into the state's defective health care exchange with a focus on the procurement process of the exchange's board, which has approved multimillion dollar contracts (2/11).

The Baltimore Sun: Costs Rising For State Health Exchange, Which Is Still 'Not Functional'
Maryland's poorly performing health exchange will cost taxpayers $33 million more than expected this year, bringing the state's total annual expense to $138 million, officials said Monday. The money is needed, in part, to pay the company hired to help fix the dysfunctional web site and to triple the work force at the state's call center, which has been overwhelmed by requests for help from customers struggling to buy insurance online (Cox, 2/10).

The Oregonian: Oregon Health Exchange May Soon Go Live, But Expect Bugs: Technological Troubles Explained
More than four months after Oregon's $170 million health insurance exchange was supposed to go live, officials say it could be up and partially running later this week -- though it won't be open to the public. By this weekend, Cover Oregon officials hope to allow insurance agents and others who assist clients to use a password-protected version of the site to enroll people as part of a limited launch. Exchange officials have been under great pressure to make this day happen (Budnick, 2/11).

Minnesota Public Radio: Management, Technology Failures, Miscommunication Plagued MNsure
Behind MNsure's upbeat façade was a swamp of management failures and tech glitches that would cripple the more than $100 million website. MNsure leaders blamed tight deadlines and evolving federal requirements for the website's malfunctions. However, internal MNsure documents and interviews with insurance company officials, county workers and other stakeholders reveal a more complicated story (Richert and Stawicki, 2/12).

And in California -

The California Health Report: Rocky Rollout For ACA In Northern California, But It's Working
When the Affordable Care Act took effect in California, (Dorothy) Lee was quick to take advantage of it. She saw a newspaper ad for an insurance agent, Bruce Jenkins, a certified ACA adviser who offers free consultation. She called him up. With his help, she went to the Covered California website and plugged in her income figures. To her delight, she discovered that she was eligible for subsidies that enabled her to obtain "an amazing Anthem/Blue Cross plan" for $143 per month. Negotiating the system involved "a little back and forth," she said, but it was easier than doing her taxes. One of the lesser known aspects of the roll out in California is that thousands of independent insurance brokers have taken the training that qualifies them to assist people in signing up (Speer, 2/11).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.