Though leaders of the House subcommittee investigating state insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act charged they were "doomed to fail," exchange leaders testified their experiences were mostly positive.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said that while states received $5.51 billion in federal money to set up their own exchanges, they “had no specific definition of what a state exchange was supposed to do, or more importantly, what it was not supposed to do.”
Murphy told the witnesses he was hearing only “rainbows and unicorns” and wanted to know more about the problems with the exchanges. He cited struggles with technology, high maintenance costs and lower than expected enrollment numbers.
Representatives of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon acknowledged some problems with their exchanges. But they emphasized their success with reducing rates of uninsured and hailed their future projects for improving health outcomes.
“Oregonians have benefited from a very competitive marketplace that offers them a meaningful choice of high-quality plans and affordable rates,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Services, which took over the state exchange in March. “The marketplace has helped over 100,000 Oregonians get health insurance and take advantage of financial assistance to help pay for it.
Along with the expansion of Medicaid, the exchange has played a major role in decreasing the number of uninsured in the state, Allen said.
James Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT, said Connecticut's exchange is self-sustainable and has succeeded with its stable, user-friendly design. “Solid technology and a commitment to exceptional customer service have made Access Health CT a model for other states,” he said.