- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Idaho officials say they’re tired of waiting on files from the federal government and have figured out a way to transfer the state’s 76,000 Obamacare customers from the federal marketplace to its state-run portal this fall.

Your Health Idaho said it had hoped to leverage federal information to set up existing enrollees on their own web platform.

Instead, it has asked the state’s health and welfare agency to use its eligibility system to figure out who is eligible for government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. It will also work with insurance carriers to determine who signed up for coverage and needs an account on the state exchange, which is set to launch in time for the overhaul’s second sign-up period on Nov. 15.

“When Idaho decided we would use HealthCare.gov for the first year of open enrollment, we believed we could easily transfer their accounts into our own system once it was ready,” said Jody Olson, the chief spokeswoman for Your Health Idaho. “Our system is on track to be ready for open enrollment, but the federal government continues to drag its feet, and we still don’t have the data we were told we would get.”

Idahoans have until Sept. 1 to confirm the accuracy of their personal information through the exchange’s website or over the phone with an insurance agent or broker.

From there, they will get a letter that outlines their tax credit and a link to activate their new accounts in November.

Customers have until Dec. 15 to shop for new plans or else they’ll be re-enrolled in their existing plans.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times.

Idaho was among 36 states that used the federal exchange website, HealthCare.gov, during the law’s inaugural sign-up period from Oct. 1 to mid-April, but now it is readying its own web platform.

New Mexico’s exchange board voted last month to use the federal HealthCare.gov website for another year instead of shifting to its own platform, as it had planned.

That left Idaho as the only state planning to move from the federal website to its own portal for 2015.

In recent meetings, officials there had expressed concern that the 76,000 enrollees from 2014 will have to start over in 2015 unless the state can obtain data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure an easy transition.

Meanwhile, Oregon and Nevada are moving in the opposite direction, dumping their glitchy state websites and relying on HealthCare.gov when open enrollment begins again in mid-November.

Massachusetts may join them but prefers to revamp its balky state-run portal as part of a dual-track strategy before enrollment begins again.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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