Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Politics:

Nevada’s health exchange for Medicaid to cost $25 million

The cost to replace the Medicaid section of Nevada’s flawed online health insurance exchange will be $25 million, a state official told a legislative committee today.

The federal government will pay $22.5 million and Nevada will pay the rest, said Mike Wilden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Wilden broke the news this morning during a meeting with members of the Legislative Committee on Health Care.

The state has to fix the online infrastructure after its contractor, Xerox, failed to launch the first version of the Silver State Exchange earlier this year. The state fired Xerox last month and is now outlining a road map to revamp the defective exchange.

The Medicaid portion is one of many broken pieces in the exchange. The exchange will also replace its non-Medicaid system, which was also built by Xerox. The state expects the new infrastructure to be built by the end of 2015.

Nevada consumers will be directed to the federal health care exchange when signing up for health insurance plans during the next enrollment period beginning Nov. 15. They will be able to access it via the state’s current health care site, Nevada Health Link. The state estimates the total cost will range between $40 million and $70 million to rebuild the system.

At the committee meeting this morning, lawmakers peppered the exchange’s interim executive director, Steve Fisher, with questions.

They asked Fisher about Xerox's future role and the hiring of a new contractor. Xerox will remain with the state until December. The company will continue to operate call centers and process applications for consumers whose extenuating circumstances still allow them to enroll between now and November, Fisher said.

Nevada paid Xerox $12.3 million for its work. The last time Xerox received a payment was in December, Fisher said.

It's unclear if Xerox will be paid for the remaining work. "We are in negotiations with Xerox in how we move forward with existing contracts," Fisher said.

Because of the exchange's flaws, It is still unclear whether all consumers who paid would be covered for a doctor's visit or a trip to the emergency room.

State officials did release enrollment statistics from May 23.

The state estimates that 429,983 people completed applications using the state exchange. Of those, the state says 35,712 consumers paid for qualified health care plans. Nearly 158,000 of the applications were sent to the division of welfare to be processed for Medicaid eligibility. The remainder of applications either didn't qualify for a plan or didn't select a plan, said CJ Bawden, spokesman for the Silver State Exchange.

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