As of September, the Connecticut Health Policy Project estimated the state has accomplished just 15 percent of what needs to be done to implement the Affordable Care Act, including a health insurance exchange that will serve as a central market for buyers and sellers of insurance. Still, the New Haven-based organization dubbed it “a good month” given a compromise negotiation on essential health benefits and a $107 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in support of the health insurance exchange.
“The grant is very exciting,” wrote Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project, in a blog along with colleague John Clark. “The state plans to use most of the funding for a new, comprehensive IT system. If we do this right, this could solve a lot of our systemic problems.”
In June, a working group on health technology produced an eight-page white paper summing up its overarching vision for the state’s new information technology system, but entering September was still gathering information on the specific architecture the ultimate IT system will adopt.
The working group stated that system will need to have flexibility to allow for technical revisions to conform to future requirements, such as increased eligibility and enrollment that will occur because of mandates set forth in the Affordable Care Act.
“Finding the right balance between technical agility and efficiency has always been challenging for states, but balancing these tools for success amongst stakeholders is imperative for success,” the working group stated. “States should consider the benefits of standards-based approach to building a Medicaid enterprise that facilitates the reuse of solutions and integrates commercial off-the-shelf products to reduce development and IT costs to the states and CMS.”
The Connecticut Health Policy Project also pointed to new CMS data showing that Connecticut health spending increased 7.9 percent annually on average from 1980 through 2009, outpacing a 6 percent annual growth rate for the state economy. This summer, multiple health insurance carriers filed for double-digit increases on their small-employer group policies, citing in part the added costs of complying with new mandates in the Affordable Care Act.
Rand Corp. has estimated that at least 40,000 people will secure insurance through the exchange via their small business, with another 270,000 people obtaining individual policies.
Despite those gains, at least 170,000 people in Connecticut are expected still to go without insurance after the Affordable Care Act’s January 2014 implementation date, with ongoing implications for acute-care hospitals that take patients regardless of ability to pay.
As of August, ongoing action items include filling out leadership for the state insurance exchange, with Lexington, Mass.-based Fitzgerald Associates leading the executive search process.
Other to-do items include:
• establishing infrastructure for Medicaid;
• recruiting Medicaid providers; and
• educating consumers and businesses.
“We’ve had a fairly visible outreach in the community,” said Kevin Counihan, who this summer joined the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange as CEO.
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