Nevada officials will drop the vendor responsible for building the state’s health insurance exchange and move to join the federal HealthCare.gov exchange after a bumpy rollout frustrated thousands of residents seeking coverage.
The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board voted unanimously on Tuesday to dump Xerox, which won the $72 million contract to build Nevada’s exchange. Because so many parts of the exchange were never built, or were built so poorly, the state has only paid Xerox about $12 million.
A spokesman for the Nevada board said the state will continue to pay Xerox, but not more than a few million dollars in order to complete parts of the Web site. The Nevada Health Link will continue to serve as a Supported State Based Marketplace, meaning it will continue to certify plans and patient eligibility for Medicaid.
Last week, board members were in Washington meeting with officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to weigh their options. On Tuesday, the board voted to hand control of the online program to the federal government.
HHS will pay costs associated with transferring Nevada’s health exchange to the federal exchange. But the move will still cost Nevada millions of dollars as it merges the state’s Medicaid system with the federal government. The state estimates that those costs could be as much as $20 million, though Nevada will only be responsible for 10 percent of total costs.
The board also voted to issue a request for proposals for a more permanent replacement, one that could come from another state with better software.
Two other states, Oregon and Maryland, have already dumped their state health-care exchanges after glitches caused delays and consumer confusion. Oregon opted to join the federal HealthCare.gov Web site, while Maryland adopted software from Connecticut’s functioning exchange.
Democrats and Republicans voiced support for the board’s decision. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) said there was “no reason” Nevada’s exchange couldn’t have been as good as states like Kentucky or Connecticut.
“Xerox has been a disaster and was the cause of considerable flaws and glitches on Nevada’s site,” Reid said. A spokesman for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the board “made the best decision it could under these difficult circumstances.”