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Saturday, June 06, 2015
Not Really Closing: Another $70M to be Wasted on New Hawaii Health Exchange Plan
By Selected News Articles @ 3:42 PM :: 3054 Views :: Health Care

Transition approved for state health exchange

Small-business side to shut down; individuals will need to re-enroll

AP, June 6, 2015: The board of Hawaii's financially troubled health exchange has approved a plan to shut down the small-business side of the exchange and transition individual users to the federal marketplace.

The board unanimously approved the plan in a vote Friday....

...Hawaii's health exchange will transition to become a federally supported state-based marketplace, Kissel said. The state will join Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, which have similar setups.

The Affordable Care Act required all state-based marketplaces to be financially sustainable by the beginning of 2015. The connector had a plan to reach sustainability within several years. But the plan relied on continuous state support, and the Legislature granted less funding than what the exchange had requested to be sustainable this year.

"We just don't have enough uninsured people, thank goodness, to make this financially feasible. That is the bottom line," said Laurel Johnston, deputy chief of staff for Gov. David Ige, at the board meeting. "This is not a failure. This was maybe an experiment that for Hawaii didn't quite pan out."

The federal government has been withholding about $70 million in grant money, but that will likely be released thanks to the board's vote, which will enable the exchange to continue doing outreach, Kissel said.

Beginning June 15, the exchange will stop accepting new enrollments to the small-business side, and it will have limited capacity to adjust plans for changes in life circumstances, according to the transition plan. Staff reductions will begin on July 1, and Kissel is expected to leave the exchange after most of the administrative and operational activities end.

It will cost an estimated $25 million to $30 million to complete the transition, Kissel said....

read ... Transition approved for state health exchange

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STATE TO ASSIST WITH TRANSITION OF PRIVATE NON-PROFIT HAWAI‘I HEALTH CONNECTOR OPERATIONS

News Release from Office of the Governor, June 5, 2015

HONOLULU — The State of Hawai‘i announced today it is taking steps to ensure a smooth transition for individuals seeking health care insurance in the November 2015 Open Enrollment.

The Hawai‘i Health Connector, a private non-profit entity, has been unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain operations. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) informed the Connector last week that federal funds were no longer available to support its long-term operations.

The viability of state health insurance exchanges has been a challenge across the country, particularly in small states due to insufficient numbers of uninsured residents.  The State of Hawai‘i has a high rate of insured residents due to employer-based health care coverage and Medicaid program expansions.

“The state is working with the Connector and CMS to determine what functions can be transitioned to state oversight to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the next Open Enrollment in November 2015,” said Gov. David Ige.

The Hawai‘i Health Connector’s consumer support operations will continue to assist with the November Open Enrollment.

Based upon ongoing discussions with the state and the Connector, CMS has agreed to provide limited funds for the transition so that Hawai‘i can maintain a Supported State-based Marketplace (SSBM), in which the state provides local customer support. The amount of CMS transition funds has yet to be determined.

“The state remains committed to offering health care coverage through the Prepaid Health Care Act as it has for the past 40 years,” said Gov. Ige. “The state continues to provide millions of dollars to serve 300,000 Hawai‘i adults and children who receive health care coverage through Medicaid.”

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What is a "federally supported state-based marketplace"?

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