In Calif., Anthem leads in enrollment; Md. Glitches blamed on IBM software

News outlets report on how state health exchanges and enrollment outreach efforts are proceeding.

Los Angeles Times: Anthem Still Tops California Exchange Enrollment; Kaiser Drops Back
At the halfway mark, industry giant Anthem Blue Cross is holding on to a slim lead among health insurance providers with a 31% share of California's exchange market. The Covered California exchange released enrollment figures Tuesday for its 11 health plans from Oct. 1 to the end of December. Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act runs through March 31. Anthem, the state's largest for-profit health insurer and a unit of WellPoint Inc., has signed up 155,146 people (Terhune, 1/22).

The Wall Street Journal: IBM Software Blamed For Health Exchange Woes
Software from International Business Machines Corp. has been singled out for technical problems affecting both the Maryland and Minnesota online health exchanges. Officials from both states have blamed IBM's Cúram, used to determine consumers' eligibility for health-insurance coverage, for a number of website performance issues, including losing consumer applications (Boulton, 1/23).

Fox News: Administration Fears Part Of Health Care System So Flawed It Could Bankrupt Insurance Companies
To justify a no-bid contract with Accenture after firing CGI as the lead contractor, the administration released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that offered a rare glimpse of its worst fears, saying the problems with the website puts "the entire health insurance industry at risk" ... "potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers (Angle, 1/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Emergency Stop-Gap Insurance Plan Clears Committee Vote
The emergency plan to provide state insurance to people stuck because of Maryland's faulty health exchange cleared another hurdle Wednesday as a committee voted to send it to the floor of the House of Delegates. The proposal to let people join the state's high-risk pool, known as the Maryland Health Insurance Program, passed the House Health and Government Operations Wednesday afternoon, the day after the Senate approved it (Cox, 1/22).

Kaiser Health News: In Western N.C., Getting Health Coverage Means Getting Creative
In the mountains of Western North Carolina, health insurance navigator Julia Buckner spends hours driving around what she calls 'God's Country' -; miles and miles of mountains, rivers and winding roads. Her job - and her passion - is to help the rural residents of some of the poorest counties in North Carolina sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act (Gold, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Idaho Exchange Officials Don't Know If 20,000 People Who Signed Up For Obamacare Were Previously Uninsured
Idaho insurance exchange officials don't know if the 20,000 people signed up for coverage effective Jan. 1 hail from the ranks of the uninsured, or if they previously had coverage but switched to exchange policies because they're now eligible for financial assistance. Your Health Idaho board chairman Stephen Weeg and director Amy Dowd gave their first report to the Idaho Legislature on Tuesday (1/22).

Minnesota Public Radio: Independent Report Slams MNsure Leaders, Says State Should Consider Scrapping System
An independent consultant has issued a damning report of the state's troubled online insurance marketplace. MNsure's management structure is "non-existent" according to Optum, a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, which recently performed a week-long analysis of the more than $100 million website. MNsure executives have been making decisions in a "crisis mode," the report states (Richert and Stawicki, 1/22).

Pioneer Press: MNsure Won't Meet Goals, Report Says, And Revamp On Table
While limping along in the short-run with its troubled website, MNsure must quickly pick a strategy for making long-term software fixes and get beyond the recent "crisis mode" that has dominated program management, according to a consultant's report released Wednesday. Some improvements can be made in the coming weeks, but the website can't be completely fixed by the March 31 deadline for people to obtain health insurance, according to a report from Optum, a unit of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group (Snowbeck, 1/22).

MinnPost: Few Quick Fixes For MNsure Problems, Optum Report Finds
Optum's "end-to-end" review of MNsure concludes that there are few quick fixes to many of the stubborn technical issues plaguing the exchange. That finding will translate into continued problems for the exchange and for consumers (Nord, 1/22).

The Star Tribune: Optum: MNsure Managed By 'Crisis Mode,' IT System In Disarray
Minnesota's new insurance exchange is beset with severe problems that include IT systems in disarray, a woefully understaffed call center and management that can't get out of "crisis mode," according to consultants hired to examine MNsure. The software underlying the insurance marketplace might be so badly flawed that MNsure should scrap parts of it, the Wednesday report concluded. The consultants, from UnitedHealth Group's Optum division, also pointed out significant issues in how MNsure has been managed (Crosby, 1/23).

Health News Colorado: Sign-Ups For Private Insurance Top 63,000 As Exchange Faces State Audit
A state audit of Colorado's health exchange has begun and managers say they expect it will show a clean financial bill of health. "We've already gotten our first communications from them (state auditors)," said Patty Fontneau, CEO and executive director for Connect for Health Colorado. She said auditors have requested 16 items (McCrimmon, 1/22).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Systems, Others Help People Sign Up For Insurance On Marketplace
Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin have trained 10 of their financial counselors to help people enroll in the health plans available through the federal marketplace. As of Friday, 25 people had signed up for coverage. The number -; more than three months after the launch of the federal marketplace -; suggests the work ahead in reaching people who may be eligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Boulton, 1/22). 

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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