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House HIX Testimony Falls on Deaf Ears

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, September 11, 2013

Despite reports of progress on health insurance exchanges, some members of Congress continue to express concern that the exchanges may not be ready by the Oct. 1 deadline.

If you cling to the hope that Congressional hearings are honest, forthright efforts by our elected representatives to fact-find about complex topics, then a subcommittee hearing held Tuesday must have been an eye opener.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's subcommittee on health met ostensibly to gather information about the progress that is being made as we countdown to the Oct. 1 rollout of health insurance exchanges.

There have been several government reports released in recent months that have raised concerns about whether the exchanges will be ready to process millions of health insurance applications. Earlier this summer the Government Accountability Office released two reports that raised concerns about HIX meeting the Oct. 1 deadline. While "much progress has been made… much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time," the reports warned.

So, it seems entirely within the domain of the health subcommittee to take a look at where things stand for this critical piece of the healthcare reform law.

The opening statements by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), chair of the subcommittee, and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) set a somewhat hopeful stage. Both voiced legitimate concerns that the exchanges would be ready on Oct. 1. Rep. Gingrey noted the complexities involved in testing the system."How can taxpayers feel secure with [having] their personal information in the exchange when there has not been adequate security checks to determine the effectiveness?" he asked.

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