Bryan P. Sears//Daily Record Business Writer//July 14, 2014
//Daily Record Business Writer
//July 14, 2014
Maryland Health Benefit Exchange officials have little to say about a recently reported glitch in software used by the Connecticut health exchange that resulted in thousands of accidental insurance cancellations in that state.
The revelations come as the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange begins testing an adaptation of the Connecticut system for Maryland.
It is not clear how the issues might affect the use of the Connecticut code. Requests to interview Carolyn A. Quattrocki, executive director of the Maryland exchange, and Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, its chairman, were unsuccessful.
Alison Walker, a spokeswoman for the exchange, instead issued a one-sentence statement:
“Following up, we are aware of these issues reported and will resolve them in time for open enrollment,” Walker wrote in an email.
In April, state officials including Quattrocki, Sharfstein and Gov. Martin J. O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown announced that the state would jettison the health benefits exchange on which it spent $130 million of $180 million in grants from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, replacing it with code developed for Connecticut and paid for with federal money.
Maryland officials have previously said they were using the Connecticut code “as is” but were making minor changes to accommodate Maryland-centric branding, notices, interfaces and laws.
A news report last week revealed that officials at Access Health CT recently learned that nearly 5,800 of those using Connecticut’s exchange were inaccurately enrolled or received inaccurate bills. The errors, which were attributed to a programming flaw, were related to enrollees who updated their information with the exchange as a result of changes in their lives, such as a pregnancy or in income, according to the report on CTMirror.org.
A spokeswoman for Access Health CT was not immediately available for comment.
Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Access Health CT, told CTMirror.org that the problem is “fundamentally a system flaw.”
That flaw caused information to be sent to some insurers that indicated enrollees did not qualify for federal subsidies, or it moved people who were enrolled in Medicaid back into private plans in which they had once been customers. In all, 3,854 people were wrongly made eligible for Medicaid. More than 900 people who lost coverage were later reinstated, according to CTMirror.org.
Officials at the exchange said a temporary fix would flag similar cases that could have inaccurate federal subsidy information and move it into a holding area for review.
Counihan, the head of Access Health CT, told the news website that officials were working to identify and correct problems over the summer but that he expected others would elude programmers.
“I just believe this kind of thing is going to keep happening,” Counihan told CTMirror.org. “I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know the next one. But I think we’re going to have these continued little glitches for a period of time.”
One state legislator said the revelations about the Connecticut code raise concerns.
“There are a lot of customizations that need to be made for Maryland,” said Del. Susan W. Krebs, R-Carroll County.
Krebs, a member of the Joint Oversight Committee on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said some of the biggest of those challenges will be working the state’s Medicaid eligibility rules into the Connecticut system.
“There are very complicated levels of Medicaid eligibility in Maryland,” Krebs said. “There are a lot of people who are eligible here that are not eligible in other states. It’s not just taking this model and putting a Maryland symbol on it.”
The committee is scheduled to meet in Annapolis Tuesday for its first update on the exchange since April.
CTMirror.org contributed to this story.T