Local Connection: Hawaii Health Connector

Local Connection: Hawaii Health Connector

By: Rick Blangiardi

As startups go, the Hawaii Health Connector has got to be the poster child of ineptitude.

Created with more than 200-million-dollars in federal grants to establish a state-wide health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, the connector got off to a rocky start in the planning months of 2011.

Executive Director Coral Andrews was chosen to head the connector and even the headlines at the time of how poorly it was conceived and executed do not do justice to how mismanaged it ended up during its October 2013 launch.

Board members arrived to empty offices the morning of the scheduled launch and realized there were significant problems.

But the audit reveals that Andrews and her board skirted their own procurement policies and later, significant dollar amounts were added to those original contracts. In one egregious case, a 56-thousand-dollar-consulting contract was amended many times until it hit almost 22-million-dollars.

If the resulting problems force the state having to repay the grant funding, that would really be a travesty.

Under new connector director Jeff Kissel things seem to be improving.

But this audit doesn't exactly give us confidence that this important program was well thought out or managed.

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