Nevada Abandons Failed State Health Exchange

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 06:57 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board, which oversees Obamacare in Nevada, has decided to give up on its own Health Link exchange and switch to the federal HealthCare.gov portal, at least through the 2015 open enrollment period, Politico reported.

Nevada's state exchange has been plagued with technical glitches. The board concluded that the exchange would not work reliably for the 2015 enrollment season that begins in November. It lost faith in Xerox, the vendor that had been paid $75 million to construct the online enrollment system.

"I get calls at home. I get calls on my cell phone from carriers and brokers and from people trying to enroll," said Barbara Smith-Campbell, board chairman, according to KLAS-TV.

Referring to Xerox she said, "They're part of the big boys on the block. How would you think you wouldn't be able to put this together?"

Nevada is the latest state to turn to HealthCare.gov and give up on its own exchange.

Maryland has borrowed Connecticut's technology. Massachusetts and Oregon joined the federal exchange. Nevada said it was exploring whether long term it could adopt a program from another state.

The move is a setback for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. While opposed to the Affordable Care Act, he nevertheless tried to operate a state exchange. He also brought his state into the expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

Thirty-six predominantly Republican-led states opted not to create their own exchanges and relied on the federal HealthCare.gov site.

The governor's spokesman, Tyler Klimas, said state authorities had no choice but to switch to the federal portal because Xerox "failed" to "perform its contractual duties." Politico reported.

Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston said it was likely the exchange scrap would be "an issue" Sandoval "will have to deal with in any future run." The popular governor has been mentioned as a possible GOP nominee for vice president, according to Politico.

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said, "Whatever the governor and the legislature wants, I support," in order to repair the exchange, Politico reported.

As of May 10, only 35,000 residents had successfully enrolled in Nevada's Health Link out of the target goal of 118,000 by March 31.

Given the problems, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner had encouraged Nevada officials to switch to the federal system, Politico reported.

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