- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Gov. Brian Sandoval took the contractor in charge of Nevada’s failed health insurance exchange to the woodshed Tuesday and repeatedly demanded assurances from Xerox that it will work with a competitor to fix the problem-plagued exchange.

After an hour-long meeting, the Board of Examiners chaired by Sandoval approved a $1.5 million contract to hire Deloitte Consulting to assess Nevada’s ill-performing web portal built by Xerox and recommend possible fixes.

“We should never be here today, but we are,” a perturbed Sandoval told Xerox officials. “I need to have assurance from Xerox that it is going to cooperate with Deloitte. If there’s not full cooperation, this won’t work.”

Greg Vitiello, Xerox vice president, responded: “We’re fully prepared to cooperate with Deloitte.”

Sandoval stressed his message. “I don’t want to get a call a week from now from Deloitte saying: ‘Governor, we can’t get this done because Xerox won’t play ball,’ ” he said.

Xerox was awarded a $75 million contract to build Nevada’s online web portal called Nevada Health Link. But problems with program errors, long wait times, botched billings and coverage verifications have left consumers and insurance brokers angered and frustrated, and state officials seeking solutions.

With the March 31 enrollment deadline fast approaching, only 22,000 people have signed up and paid for private insurance offered through the exchange. That’s less than 20 percent of the initial enrollment target of 118,000.

Shawna DeRousse, chief operations manager for the exchange, said about 10,000 have signed up but not yet paid while 69,000 have gone through the eligibility process. She detailed setbacks and problems that have plagued the system since it went live Oct. 1, adding that more than 1,000 “issues” or defects have had to be corrected.

Problems escalated in December, DeRousse said, when the deadline for coverage effective Jan. 1 approached.

“We were slammed,” she said.

DeRousse said around 1,000 people have paid for premiums but have not gotten verification from carriers of their coverage. “We are working these cases individually,” she said.

State officials want to make sure the problems are corrected before the 2015 enrollment period begins in November.

“We can’t go through this again,” Sandoval said.

Kevin Kelly, a Deloitte principal, said the company already has a team in Carson City. The assessment of the system will take five weeks and involve a “deep dive” into computer code and data, he said.

Deloitte set up part of Nevada’s complex system that deals with Medicaid enrollments and eligibility determinations linked to federal data hubs. It also established state-run exchanges called for under the federal health-care reform law in four other states - Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington and Kentucky.

Sandoval pressed Xerox on what it was doing to help a retired Las Vegas man, Lawrence Basich, who thought he had purchased insurance only to find out it was botched in the process. Basich suffered a heart attack on Dec. 31 and underwent bypass surgery days later. He has racked up more than $400,000 in medical bills.

“This has cascaded to the absolute worst-case scenario,” Sandoval said. “You need to walk in his shoes for a minute,” he told Xerox executives.

Vitiello said Xerox has been working with exchange officials to resolve Basich’s problem “as soon as possible.”

The response didn’t satisfy Sandoval, who said that was the same answer he’s received from Xerox for weeks.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide