Many state officials tasked with developing the IT infrastructure for health insurance exchanges are struggling to meet upcoming deadlines, Government Technology reports (Heaton, Government Technology, 10/31).
Under the federal health reform law, states by January 2014 must create insurance exchanges that provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.
States can choose to administer their own exchanges -- for which they must have some infrastructure in place by January 2013 -- or ask the federal government to run the exchanges for them (iHealthBeat, 7/28).
Patty Conner, director of the Utah Health Exchange, said unclear expectations at the federal level are contributing to the anxiety of state IT officials. Conner said, "There is no definition today on how we need to deliver some of these services and what exactly their expectation is. It's really hard to say that we're going to make the timeline, because we don't know all of the components at this point."
Bill Obernesser -- IT policy adviser for the California Health Benefit Exchange -- said one of his state's biggest challenges will be systems integration because California has three eligibility systems for its public assistance programs. He said, "Every other state with the possible exception of New York has a single eligibility system for its public assistance programs, including Medicaid, so the emphasis is on one system." Obernesser added that California likely will seek integration help in early 2012.
Lloyd Lim -- health branch administrator for Hawaii's Insurance Division -- said that upgrading old systems and connecting them with a federal health insurance exchange hub in the next two years will be difficult. He said, "Going from a very old system to a new system in the space of two years is not really consistent with the track record that Medicaid has in doing those kinds of implementations -- and the federal guys know that" (Government Technology, 10/31).