The future of the Hawaii Health Connector - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

The future of the Hawaii Health Connector

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Monday represented the final day for health insurance applications under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  At the State Capitol, a bill was heard by a State Senate Committee on how Hawaii's arm of it, the Hawaii Health Connector, will be run in the future.

A House bill would give the legislature oversight of the Connector, in the aim of increasing transparency and sustainability.

Senator Roslyn Baker asked "How can we create something, deliver something, utilize something that makes the best possible choices and information available to the folks that are uninsured?"

Senator Sam Slom was a bit more frank in his opinion.  "I think this Connector is an embarrassment, and it's a fiscal disaster which can only get worse".

As of Monday, over 7,000 people in the state had signed up for health insurance via the Connector.  Officials expect this number to rise as late applications are processed.

"Some think it's going to be really small, less than 20,000, some think it's going to be upwards of 30.  Either way it's still really a small number" said Board member Keali'I Lopez.  Lopez was speaking to the fact that initial estimates pegged the total number of uninsured in Hawaii at 100,000.

So far the Connector has spent over $100 million in federal grants.  It has just over $90 million in reserves.  Once the funding runs dry, the Connector needs to become self sustaining.  In its current operational mode, it is not.

Said Slom; "I don't know what some of my colleagues want to do.  You want to bail this out? You want to take it over? You want to use more taxpayer funds for somebody that makes up their business plan as they go along?"

Questions he'll attempt to have answered when the bill, which was deferred, is heard again Thursday.

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