The U.S. House of Representatives was back in Affordable Care Act watchdog mode Tuesday with a hearing to assess the preparedness of various technology and data vendors for the health insurance exchanges set to open in three weeks.
“While baseline functionality of state-based exchanges will be up and running on Oct. 1, it can be expected that most, if not all, exchanges will experience a rocky enrollment period as they work to overcome both known and unknown challenges,” said Brett Graham, partner and managing director of Leavitt Partners’ Center for Exchange Intelligence, in testimony on Capitol Hill. He added that “not a single state appears to be completely ready for open enrollment” and his Washington-based think tank’s evaluation is that “there will be technical issues that will impede a consumer’s ability to enroll in a seamless and timely manner.”
Four government contractor officials for the technology and data elements of the exchange confirmed, in response to point blank questioning by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), that their companies were on track for Oct. 1 enrollment opening. The government contractors are tasked, based on their various fields of expertise, with development of the IT application, processing of applications, verification of applicant data and creation of a hub to route information between exchanges and other sources.
This meeting, intended as a “pulse check” on the ACA, was held in the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee.
Back in early August a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent watchdog, suggested that security testing on the data hub was behind schedule. But the testimony from the contractor charged with this work — QSSI, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group Inc. — said Tuesday that “we have completed software coding for the data service hub for all its required Oct. 1 functions” and “we are continuing performance and integration testing.” Michael Finkel, the representative testifying for QSSI, was amongst the four contractors who confirmed they will be ready on Oct. 1.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the full committee, questioned the timing of this hearing calling the contractors’ need to be there, “burdensome demands … during the most critical phase of these contractors’ work.” He likened it to the request for information Republicans of the same committee asked of navigator organizations earlier this month.
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) is the chairman of the health subcommittee and Pallone is the ranking member.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access