Testing Requirements Could Delay Launch Of State Health Exchanges

Government officials said Wednesday during a Capitol Hill hearing that the Oct. 1 deadline may not allow enough time to test the systems that are being put in place to run these online insurance marketplaces.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Enough Time To Test Health Insurance Exchange?
An official from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told Congress Wednesday he's concerned there isn't enough time to fully test a federal-health insurance marketplace that is being built to allow people to sign up for health insurance on Oct. 1 (Dooren, 7/17).

Reuters: Officials Warn Of Obamacare Insurance Exchange Delays
Two U.S. government officials warned on Wednesday that the launch of new state health care exchanges could potentially be delayed, raising further doubts about the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature legislation. Alan Duncan, an auditor with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an Internal Revenue Service agency that monitors performance, said testing the systems needed to implement the exchanges "will be difficult to complete" by the October 1 start date (Temple-West and Dixon, 7/17).

House Republicans also are expressing skepticism about the security of the exchanges' data --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: House GOP Skeptical Exchange Information Will Be Secure; Tavenner Wasn't Consulted On Delaying Health Law's Employer Mandate
Henry Chao, a lead technology information officer from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said officials have completed about 80 percent of the safeguards to protect privacy when the agency rolls out what it calls "The Hub" (Rao, 7/17).

Medpage Today: Questions Raised About ACA Data Security
Federal watchdogs expressed concerns to lawmakers Wednesday about the security of information that will be traded through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) health insurance exchanges. Federal tax information provided to the exchanges in order to determine benefit eligibility may not be adequately protected, an official from the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said Wednesday. Alan Duncan, assistant inspector general for the Treasury Department, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee his office has concerns the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) fraud controls may not be ready in time to detect ACA-related fraud schemes (Pittman, 7/17).

Meanwhile, news outlets report on state developments, including the latest from Minnesota and California.

ABC News: Where Does Your State Stand On 'Obamacare' Implementation (Video)
Washington after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. States are putting together their new health-care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, better known as "Obamacare," and all 50 must be up and running by October 1. Where does your state stand? The Obama administration has set up a website where visitors can click on a map with information about how the Affordable Care Act will change health care in each state. For the most part, the site promotes improvements brought by the Affordable Care Act and the grant money the states have received (Good, 7/17).

MPR News: MNsure Town Hall Message: Brace Yourselves For The Information Deluge, Minnesota
Several DFL legislators and the head of the upcoming online insurance marketplace, MNsure, tried to explain the federal health care law as part of a town hall meeting last night in Minneapolis. … The group told the audience that the cost of health plan premiums will be available Oct. 1 for plans that will take effect in January 2014. They said Minnesotans should prepare for a deluge of mass media campaigns, coming in mid-August, to explain how the law will work (Stawicki, 7/17).

MPR News: MNsure Buyers Could Get Early Look At Rates
People interested in buying health insurance through the state's new online marketplace, MNsure, may get an early look at premium rates, according to a Minnesota Department of Commerce official. MNsure goes live Oct. 1 with policies that would take effect in January. "The Department of Commerce is working actively with [health insurers] to try to come to a resolution that would not only allow us to provide rate information prior to October 1, but would also be accurate and approved rate information," said Tim Vande Hey, deputy commissioner of the department's insurance division at a meeting of the MNsure board Wednesday (Richert, 7/17).

California Healthline: Training Launched For Exchange Educators
The educators got an education yesterday. Covered California, the state's health benefit exchange, held classes in Sacramento and San Gabriel in Los Angeles County for its Certified Educator program that will eventually train 2,000 people to go out into the community and recruit Californians to sign up for the exchange. … Covered California has awarded $37 million in grants to community groups throughout the state in an attempt to use existing networks to reach as many people as possible … . The ad campaign for Covered California -- television, radio, print, billboards, social media -- will launch in August (Gorn, 7/17).

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