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GAO: HIX Unready by October?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 24, 2013

"While CMS has met project schedules, several critical tasks, such as final testing with federal and state partners, remain to be completed. For plan management, CMS must review and certify the qualified health plans (QHPs) that will be offered in the FFEs. Though the system used to submit applications for QHP certification was operational during the anticipated time frame, several key tasks regarding plan management, including certification of QHPs and inclusion of QHP information on the exchange websites, remain to be completed. In the case of consumer assistance, for example, funding awards for Navigators--a key consumer assistance program--have been delayed by about two months, which has delayed training and other activities," GAO said.  

The wording of the conclusions in the second report—Status of Federal and State Efforts to Establish Health Insurance Exchanges—was virtually identical to that of the first report, but added that "in commenting on a draft of this report, HHS emphasized the progress it has made in establishing exchanges, and expressed its confidence that exchanges will be open and functioning in every state by Oct. 1, 2013."

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) was approved in 18 states, and for 17 states that operate health insurance exchanges for individuals. CMS will operate a federally facilitated SHOP and an individual exchange in the remaining states. As with the status of the overall FFE programs and their relationships with particular states, the GAO study of SHOP programs found them in varied stages of evolution.

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