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D.C. exchange site to lack eligibility tool

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia’s new health insurance exchange will be missing an automatic assistance eligibility determination system when it opens Tuesday.

The District of Columbia is one of 17 jurisdictions that’s running its own Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange program.

Other jurisdictions are letting the federal government handle part or all of the exchange management job in 2014.

District officials said Wednesday that their public exchange — D.C. Health Link — will not be able to automatically determine whether applicants are eligible for Medicaid or for government subsidies to help pay for insurance.

Officials said the website was producing a high error rate when it tried to make those determinations itself.

Instead, people can use the website to submit an online application for subsidies or Medicaid eligibility that will be evaluated offline by staff. Applicants will be notified in November if they are eligible for subsidies.

Consumers and small businesses will still be able to use the site to compare competing plans.

The District’s site is not the only one experiencing glitches as the Oct. 1 start date for the exchanges approaches. The federal government has said its Spanish-language version of the website will not be ready to handle online enrollments for a few weeks.

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