Board sets plan to fix health exchange

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange on Thursday laid out a strategic plan to fix the ongoing problems with getting people enrolled. It also set up an interim management team that will be in place until outgoing Executive Director Jon Hager is replaced.

Hager announced his resignation a week ago. His final day will be March 14.

Despite receiving assurances from Xerox that it is moving to fix problems with the website and call center, board members made it clear they still aren’t confident Xerox can fix things and meet terms of its $75 million contract. Member Lynne Etkins said she has no faith that Xerox can fix the system and sees its claim that it plans to enroll 150,000 Nevadans in health coverage by the end of March as unrealistic. There are fewer than 20,000 enrolled in insurance plans.

But all members agreed that, at this point, they don’t believe in terminating the contract or dumping Nevadans onto the federal health exchange.

Chairwoman Barbara Smith Campbell said closing Nevada’s exchange and pushing residents to the federal exchange isn’t really an option.

“I think they need to stay for the time being,” said HHS Director Mike Willden of Xerox.

Instead, they approved a multi-pronged approach that will bring a team of staffers from Health and Human Services, the Insurance Division, IT and Administration in to help oversee the contractor’s progress in fixing problems and give the board an independent review of how things are working and what needs to be fixed.

Willden and Director of Administration Jeff Mohlenkamp told the board the people they will send to help already have experience with developing different parts of the exchange and its interface with their agencies.

While that team gets to work, the board also voted to pursue — as quickly as possible — hiring an independent contractor to look at the system and make recommendations on how to fix the exchange.

Member Leslie Johnstone called for the contract, saying an outside analysis is important to give the board the information needed to make decisions going forward.

Willden agreed and said he is recommending Deloitte Consulting, which he said already has extensive IT experience in Nevada and could be on board quickly to do the work.

With Hager’s departure, board members voted to install Steve Fisher, deputy administrator of Welfare and Supportive Services, as interim executive director of the exchange.

He will handle day-to-day operational duties at the exchange, supported by Willden and the state’s information technology manager, David Gustafson.

The board will meet again Thursday to go over the plan to hire an outside consultant and begin the process of opening a search for a permanent executive director.


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