Geoff Dornan

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February 5, 2014
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Sandoval: Fix health exchange problems

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he has made it abundantly clear to Xerox CEO Ursula Burns that the company’s performance in setting up the call center and developing the Nevada Health Link website for Nevadans signing up for health insurance is not acceptable.

“I expect Xerox to perform, and I’m going to hold its feet to the fire,” he said following the Board of Examiners meeting. “I made very clear I wasn’t satisfied with Xerox.”

He said the company was seriously understaffed to handle the volume of calls to the center when the Affordable Care Act took effect.

“Xerox has completely owned the fact they completely underestimated the volume,” he said.

Sandoval said he has been assured 150 people will be in that call center within about a week, and that the company is training more workers.

At the same meeting, Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said Xerox is working on fixing problems with the Silver State Health Exchange website. Several hundred applicants, he said, have been stopped in the enrollment process by and “unresolovable error” message on the computer screen.

He told the board he expects Nevada to have 500,000 people enrolled in Medicaid by the end of this year.

Willden made the comments in discussions over a $2.5 million contract to develop the state’s Health Care Reform Eligibility Engine. That contract is paid almost entirely by the federal government.

As expected, he said, the Affordable Care Act is greatly increasing the number of Nevadans on Medicaid. As of the end of January, Willden said, enrollment was 377,363.

While that is just 4,000 over projections used to build the program’s budget, he said, there is an application backlog of some 50,000.

Willden and Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez told the board that work is well under way on the conversion of Building 3A on the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health campus, and that it should be completed by March 17. That project will add 21 mental health beds to the hospital complex.

Willden said the expansion of the old Stein Hospital won’t be finished until 2015, and that it will add 42 forensic and 16 civil commitment beds to the complex that now has 190 beds at Rawson-Neal hospital.

That news came even as the board approved — without comment — expanding the legal contract with Bingham McCutchen of San Francisco from $49,000 to $388,000. The firm was hired to defend Nevada against the lawsuit filed by the City of San Francisco over alleged patient-dumping — releasing mental health patients from Rawson-Neal and putting them on buses to California.

“The Attorney General has decided that it was impracticable or uneconomical to have state of Nevada employees defend the state in this lawsuit,” the documentation for the contract states.

The board also approved a contract for professional, architectural and engineering services to construct a bridge providing access to the Caliente Youth Center in Lincoln County. That center houses youthful offenders, some with serious psychological issues.

The problem is that the only entrance to the camp is a road that passes a stream through a large culvert. When there is heavy rain in nearby hills, that stream floods, cutting off access or escape from the camp.

“In the 2005 flood, we had to helicopter those kids out of that facility,” Nuñez said.

The design contract is for $215,000. Nuñez said the total cost of construction will be about $2.5 million when finished.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 27, 2014 04:37PM Published Feb 5, 2014 12:59AM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.