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GAO: HIX Unready by October?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 24, 2013

In two reports examining the status of health insurance exchanges, the U.S. Government Accountability Office raises concerns that "much remains to be accomplished" by the Oct. 1 enrollment date.

The federal government's watchdog agency is raising concerns that the health insurance exchanges created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not be operational by the start of the October 1 enrollment period.

The Government Accountability Office issued two reports this month. One report examined the status of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' efforts to establish federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The second report examines CMS and state efforts to establish the insurance exchanges for small businesses.

Both reports reach the same conclusions. "Much progress has been made, but much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time," the GAO said in both reports.

"CMS's timelines provide a roadmap to completion; however, factors such as the still-evolving scope of CMS's required activities in each state and the many activities yet to be performed—some close to the start of enrollment—suggest a potential for challenges going forward," GAO said in Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges.

"And while the missed interim deadlines may not affect implementation, additional missed deadlines closer to the start of enrollment could do so. CMS recently completed risk assessments and plans for mitigating risks associated with the data hub, and is also working on strategies to address state preparedness contingencies. Whether these efforts will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined."

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