weather icon Clear

Nevada panel OKs $1.5 million contract to fix health insurance exchange

CARSON CITY — A state panel on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million contract with a consulting firm to develop a plan to fix Nevada’s problem-plagued health insurance exchange.

The Board of Examiners, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, approved the contract with Deloitte Consulting, which will have five weeks to identify the problems with the operation of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and come up with a plan to fix them by the fall when the next enrollment period begins.

Sandoval asked for and received assurances from the current exchange contractor, Xerox, that it would fully comply with requests for data or other information by Deloitte so it can come up with the fix. The system has been plagued with problems since starting operations on Oct. 1, 2013.

Sandoval said a lot of people are frustrated, upset and disappointed with the operation of the exchange by Xerox.

“We should never be here today for this but we are,” he said. “I need to have an assurance from Xerox that it is going to cooperate with Deloitte.

“We, being the state of Nevada, cannot go through this again,” Sandoval said. “So I’m really banking on Deloitte to get this done, to be able to identify what the issues are, and get them corrected and get the strategy, so that when November rolls around of this year that we’re not going to wake up every morning seeing stories of Nevadans who can’t navigate through the system, that aren’t getting this insurance card.”

Kevin Kelly, representing Deloitte at the meeting, said a team has been assembled and was already preparing to get moving on the review.

About 22,000 Nevadans have signed up for individual health insurance coverage through the exchange since it started operating, but thousands of others are in limbo because of bugs with the system.

Deloitte has successfully implemented health exchanges in four other states — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington and Kentucky.

Steve Fisher, interim director of the exchange, told Sandoval that Deloitte will create a road map to get the exchange working properly by Nov. 15 when the next open enrollment period begins.

“So we have a real short window of opportunity here to find out what are the major systemic issues; can they be fixed; if not, what are our options,” he said.

Kelly told the board, which also includes Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, that cooperation from Xerox is instrumental in getting the plan completed in the next five weeks.

Sandoval asked for and received assurances from Kelly that the company can do the work in the time allotted.

“We’ve got to know going into this thing that the table is set for a full and complete review of what is going on so that we can make informed decisions later,” he said.

Greg Vitiello, representing Xerox, told the board that the company will provide all the information requested by Deloitte.

“We are fully prepared to cooperate with Deloitte and cooperate with director Fisher and assist in providing whatever information is necessary,” Vitiello said.

Sandoval mentioned the case of Larry Basich of Las Vegas, highlighted in a Review-Journal story on Tuesday, who signed up for health insurance in the fall but who faces $407,000 in medical bills because his coverage plan was not processed in a timely manner.

He asked Vitiello about the status of Basich’s case.

Vitiello said Xerox is working with the exchange and the insurance carrier to resolve the issue. He said the matter is much closer to a resolution, but he did not elaborate at the meeting.

Sandoval asked what he meant by “much closer.”

“Because that’s the same answer that I’ve gotten for the past three months,” he said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Epstein’s death was a ‘perfect storm of screw-ups,’ says Barr

Attorney General William Barr said he initially had his own suspicions about financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America but came to conclude that his suicide was the result of “a perfect storm of screw-ups.”

Analysis: Lots of impeachment evidence, but not on $400M in aid

None of the witnesses could personally attest that President Trump directly conditioned the release of the $400 million in military aid on a Ukrainian announcement of investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

Tesla unveils electric pickup truck

Tesla is aiming for the heart of the auto industry’s profit machine with its own version of the heavy pickup truck.

Red panda breaks out of zoo in southeastern France

Zoo veterinarian Jean-Christophe Gerard said the animal “has good claws and good teeth” and shouldn’t be hugged, although it isn’t considered dangerous.