Nevada’s Obamacare Medicaid signings beat projections

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The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange might still be having problems processing health insurance applications, but the portion of the website that sends Medicaid-eligible applicants to the state Welfare Division is working better than expected.

According to Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden, the total Nevada Medicaid population was 415,767 as of the end of March — about 13,000 more than projected and budgeted for by the Legislature.

As a result of the boom in applications, he said, the division had a backlog of 65,888 as of that month.

However, he told the Legislative Health Committee on Wednesday that backlog is slowly beginning to drop.

Willden said he has given Welfare “carte blanche” to use as much overtime as needed to process applications and is hiring 46 more temporary workers to process claims. Once they are on board, he said, Welfare should be able to process about 2,000 applications a day and “we’ll start catching up.”

Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the committee, questioned why applicants at Welfare were being sent to Healthlink, the website that has given Obamacare applicants so much trouble.

Willden said the federal government requires a “single-entry process,” so the state had to shut down Welfare’s Access Nevada system and send everything through Healthlink.

“We need to re-evaluate that going forward,” he said.

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said that with 150,000 people signed up and more than 60,000 pending, that leaves the state 70,000 short of its goal to get 300,000 into Medicaid.

Willden said the first goal has to be to get those who have selected a plan but haven’t yet paid their premium, then the people who applied for coverage but never selected a plan.

The 70,000 Hardy referred to, he said, are more difficult to get to.


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