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Shorter exchange application form could be headache for some states


By Jonathan Block
Posted: May 1, 2013 - 6:00 pm ET
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While consumers are likely to benefit from the CMS shortening the federal health insurance exchange application form, the decision could pose problems for states that are already far along in developing their exchange IT systems, according to the executive director of one state-run exchange.

Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, said the change announced Tuesday came after his exchange has already completed coding required for system integration based on the original, 21-page application. The state exchange's IT system may not recognize data from the new form.

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Counihan voiced his concerns today to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director on policy of CMS' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the National Health Insurance Exchange Summit in Arlington, Va. “Is there anything HHS can do to stop making changes right now,” Counihan asked her.

Brooks-LaSure responded that states have the option of using the new, streamlined application that's three pages long or can still use the original, longer document.

Responding to a question from an audience member on the status of further guidance for exchanges that will be run by the federal government, Brooks-LaSure said that “really it's all out there,” noting that federally facilitated exchanges would follow much of the same rules as state-partnership exchanges. But she added that the CMS continues to have discussions with stakeholders from states planning federally run exchanges to address their concerns.

Some stakeholders have complained that even with some documents that the CMS has released, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the operation of the federally run exchanges.

During her presentation, Brooks-LaSure also said that the federal data hub, the massive IT system that will interact with state exchanges to make determinations on Medicaid eligibility and exchange subsidies, is nearly finished with testing ongoing.

She also addressed a question from the audience regarding a three-day extension that the CMS announced Monday. Carriers now have until Friday to submit applications for qualified health plans to be on federally facilitated exchanges. The delay was requested by industry and was not due to technical problems on the CMS' end, Brooks-LaSure responded.

Follow Jonathan Block on Twitter: @MHjblock


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