OK, I'm feeling a bit foolish now. Earlier today I lamented the fact that the number of state exchanges issuing regular updates continues to dwindle. A few moments ago I realized that I hadn't checked in on Colorado in awhile, and sure enough, they've posted an update through the end of July.
No Medicaid numbers are included, but the exchange QHP tally has risen by another 3,750, to break the 140K milestone at 140,355.
The enrollment rate in CO has dropped a bit since earlier this summer, but they're still running pretty strong. With the new updates from CO and MN, my off-season enrollment projection has dropped a bit as well and now ranges between 8,100 - 10,900/day, still centered squarely on the 9,000/day mark.
SHOP enrollments, meanwhile, have gone up a whopping 19, to 2,392.
Even in states whose ACA exchanges have operated pretty smoothly such as Connecticut and Kentucky, there's bound to be some technical problems. Washington State is no exception. As a result, the WA insurance commissioner has announced that anyone who tried to enroll earlier but has struggled with billing, payment or other technical issues (WA is one of only 2 states that run payments through the exchange and require the 1st months premium to be paid before even reporting the enrollment) can now give it another shot or make whatever changes are necessary without requiring a "qualifying life event" to do so:
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange (the Exchange), also known as the Washington Healthplanfinder, is making progress to correct the enrollment and payment difficulties that have affected some consumers. Those fixes are continuing, but may take additional time to resolve.
Yeah, yeah, I know the title is lame, but it's not easy to find alliterative synonyms for "ugly" and "unpleasant" starting with "O"...
Anyway, a few days after Oracle sued Oregon for $23 million in unpaid bills over the CoverOregon exchange debacle, the state has counter-sued the tech company...for a whopping $5.5 BILLION...including "Whoa...heavy, dude!" charges by the state Attorney General such as racketeering:
In the aftermath of what was likely the most spectacular failure among state-run Affordable Care Act health exchange site launches, the state of Oregon has filed a lawsuit against Oracle America Inc. over the total failure of the Cover Oregon exchange. “Oracle’s conduct amounts to a pattern of racketeering activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wrote in a civil complaint filed August 22. The lawsuit seeks over $5.5 billion in damages from Oracle, plus legal fees.
The complaint comes after Oracle filed its own lawsuit against the state’s health exchange for failure to pay for services rendered in early August. Oracle’s attorneys claimed that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber had defamed the company in a “smear campaign” while failing to take responsibility for the failure of state management of the project and not paying Oracle for additional work done.
The Good News: Minnesota, as always, continues to provide consistent, up-to-date enrollment data, adding 56 QHPs over a 3 day period:
latest enrollment numbers
August 24, 2014
Health Coverage Type Total Enrollments
Medical Assistance 183,503
Qualified Health Plan (QHP) 53,866
The Bad News: Up until recently I was only receiving regular upates from 3 states (plus monthly updates from Maryland and random, occasional updates from various other states). For the past few weeks, however, even 2 of those 3 states (Hawaii and Oregon) have seemingly gone radio silent as well. Aside from the next monthly MD update (due sometime this week, I believe), that leaves Minnesota as the sole state keeping their data up to date.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's exchange Medicaid total has now broken the 250K mark and stands at 250,557.
The news broke just a few hours ago that Kevin Counihan, the head of AccessHealthCT (Connecticut's extremely successful ACA exchange, which works so well that they were able to actually sell the software platform to Maryland to replace MD's original broken system) is leaving the CT exchange for an unspecified position at the HHS Dept:
Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan, who spearheaded Connecticut's largely successful first round of Obamacare enrollment through the state's public insurance exchange, is departing, a source close to the matter confirmed.
Access Health has scheduled a noon press conference Tuesday to make the announcement. No replacement will be named today, according to the source, who said Counihan is leaving to take a federal position within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Well, Sarah Kliff over at Vox.com has now broken the news about just what that new HHS position actually is...and it's very good news indeed:
Breaking: White House announces Kevin Counihan will be new Healthcare.gov CEO. Currently runs the Connecticut exchange.
States running their own Affordable Care Act marketplaces enrolled more people in health insurance than those using the federal marketplace, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute.
Given the federal Website's dreadful October launch, that isn't exactly jaw-dropping news. But Penn's Health Insurance Exchange researchers were surprised to find that even after Healthcare.gov began working well in December, state-based marketplaces kept outperforming the federal site.
Huh. Interesting. They even specified that this was true "even after December".
Of course, there's a very good reason why they would be "surprised" at this finding...it's not even remotely close to being true.
Regular followers of this site know that I'm primarily a bean counter, concerned mainly with tracking the numbers and plugging them into spreadsheets and graphs.
However, there's another side to the ACA story which is extremely important, and which I tend not to give enough attention to, and that's the human factor.
Sources like Amy Lynn Smith and ACASuccessStories have been doing their best to put a human face on what the Affordable Care Act means for real people with real healthcare needs, and I've mentioned or given a shout-out to these and other "tell your story" writers from time to time. However, it was 3 completely unrelated incidents which inspired me to write this entry.
Vermont signed a revised contract with the tech firm Optum that expands its role in Vermont Health Connect’s operations.
Optum already had a contract worth $5.6 million for consulting work, and the latest deal, signed Aug. 15, is worth an additional $9.5 million for a total of $15.1 million.
...At latest count, Optum has helped the state halve its backlog of coverage changes and information errors from a high of more than 14,000 to roughly 7,000. Also, close to 4,000 people are having billing issues with Vermont Health Connect. There is some overlap between the two groups, Miller said.
It’s hard work trying to get people to sign up for health insurance when their care is mostly free to them. Andrea Thomas is working to get Alaska Natives in Sitka, Alaska, to do just that. She’s the outreach and enrollment manager at SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), and it’s her job to sign people up for health insurance coverage through exchanges created as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
To get a sense of just how uphill Thomas’s battle is, consider this: Of the more than 100,000 people who live in Alaska and self-identify as Alaska Native or American Indian, only 115 had signed up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange as of March 31. Alaska Natives and American Indians are exempt from tax penalties for not signing up for health insurance.