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Nevada to dump exchange vendor

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Members of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board voted this week unanimously to give up on the state’s exchange enrollment system vendor and bring in a better one from another state.

The board — the body that oversees the state-based Nevada Health Link exchange — agreed to try to keep the exchange in state hands, rather than permanently making the exchange a “federal facilitated marketplace.”

Nevada may use to handle enrollment for 2015, then begin using a state-based system imported from another state for 2016, officials said.

Some navigators had argued  the state should stick with its exchange vendor, Xerox, because switching  could lead to transition and retraining problems.

Several brokers wrote to say they thought the state should switch vendors.

Debra Talbot, for example, said she has enrolled about 60 individuals in exchange plans through the system over the past five months but gave up last week after finding the system got worse.

“There has been a constant error at the sign-and-submit page,” Talbot wrote. “I have been given four different deadlines of when the glitch would be fixed.”

Enrolling consumers through the federal system is not foolproof, but it now generally takes less than 15 minutes, Talbot wrote.

The Nevada Association of Health Plans backed the option of using for 2015 and another state’s exchange system for 2016.

“Currently, the medical exchange carriers do not see any path under the current structure that would lead us to believe that the problems with the exchange can be resolved in time for the 2015 open enrollment period,” the Nevada health plans wrote. “Any delay in determining who will operate the exchange’s eligibility and enrollment functions could serious impact the future success of the exchange.”

During the board meeting, Leslie Johnston, a board member who has run a coalition for self-funded employer plans, was one of many participants who spoke in favor of trying to switch to another state’s enrollment system instead of keeping the current vendor.

“The track record is just not there to change the confidence level,” Johnstone said.

Xerox said in a statement that the Nevada exchange board decision is disappointing.

“Xerox has been unwavering in its commitment to Nevada Health Link and to getting all aspects of the exchange right,” the company said. “We have engaged the full breadth of Xerox’s resources and have brought in external experts to meet that goal.”

The Nevada exchange system has been successful at providing Medicaid eligibility determination decisions for 190,000 state residents, and 10,000 state residents have enrolled in commercial exchange plans through the enrollment system since April 1, Xerox said.

“These successes have been supported by more than 99 percent availability of the Xerox system,” the company said. “Xerox-implemented changes in governance and program assurance, and new system features for the special enrollment period that were put into place within two weeks.”

Xerox will work with the exchange board and others on next steps, the company said. 

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