Gov. Abercrombie: Health exchange fundamentally flawed

Gov. Abercrombie: 'Health exchange fundamentally flawed'
Published: Apr. 2, 2014 at 12:11 AM HST
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Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii was the first to commit to rollout of an insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, but the last to get up and running.

From a late launch two weeks after the fact, to a CEO who abandoned ship, Hawaii's Health Connector limped out of the gate and down to the wire. The March 31st deadline to apply was marred by more computer problems.

On Tuesday, Governor Neil Abercrombie told Hawaii News Now that execution was fundamentally flawed by a Legislature decision to set up a nonprofit.

The governor said, "I never thought having a nonprofit corporation was an efficient way to do it."

Hawaii's Health Connector struggled with computer bugs, and helping connect an estimated 100,000 uninsured with health coverage.

The governor said, "They don't have the same capacity as we do, say to determine medicaid eligibility and follow through with it. He added that, "The existing non-profit corporation probably needs to morph into an extension of what we already do very, very well."

The governor plans to push for a waiver, that could, for instance, give the departments of Health, and Human Services broader range to facilitate insurance for residents. He said, "I think in retrospect if we simply allowed the Department of Health and Department of Human Services to run it through Medicaid, and added personnel I think we probably could have registered more."

As of the deadline, 8,000 successfully enrolled through the Connector.

Another 30,000 obtained Medicaid coverage.

27,000 were declared ineligible for medicaid, and are waiting to learn about tax credits for coverage.

The Connector blames the Department of Human Services for delays. DHS disagrees, saying it's "on track, and has 45 days to process all applications."

The governor also said that enrollment numbers don't tell the whole story since 90 percent of Hawaii's population had insurance pre-Obamacare.

On Thursday, the Legislature will discuss funding for the Connector including a proposed fee for insurers who do not participate.

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