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Director vows to fix state's troubled health insurance exchange

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Director vows to fix state's troubled health insurance exchange

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Jan 30, 2014

Henderson, NV (KTNV) -- After weeks of problems and complaints, the director of Nevada Health Link said he has a plan to fix the state's troubled health insurance exchange.

Action News sat down with executive director Jon Hager at the agency's Henderson call center on Thursday. 

Error messages. Long hold times. No insurance cards. Hager has heard the complaints but said the state's exchange is not a failure and he still believes Nevada made the right move by creating its own program.

So what will it take to have the health link up and running like it should be?

"It's going to take some time," Hager said. "There's still pieces that need to be built."

For weeks, frustrated users have turned to Action News for answers on enrollment problems. Hager acknowledged the problems and said he's working to fix them. But who's to blame?

"Xerox is our vendor and we're holding them accountable and making sure they provide what's necessary but ultimately I'm the director and it's my responsibility to make sure this thing runs properly," Hager said.

Action News read part of emails from frustrated users, including one from a woman without insurance because of problems with the exchange. Hager said hearing these stories is the toughest part of the job.

"Emails like that, knowing that we're affecting people and they need their health insurance and we need to find a way to get it to them," Hager said.

The health link said it's adding staff to its call center in Henderson. Roughly 175 operators are expected to be in place within the next two weeks.

The call center is run by Xerox, which is also taking heat for the problems.

"Xerox has made a promise to the state of Nevada and I intend to make them fulfill that promise," Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement.

"The state hired Xerox to build this system and ensure that it works and right now it does not. I believe their reputation is at stake. I am not willing to let up on Xerox until this is fixed. My office continues to have regular conversations with Xerox staff, Exchange board members, and carriers. I maintain regular contact with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and I’ve made it clear – I am going to hold Xerox’s feet to the fire," Sandoval said.

Xerox responded with its own statement.

"Xerox continues to be committed to Nevada Health Link and to helping Nevadans get access to affordable healthcare through the state’s health insurance exchange," Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in a statement. "We recognize that people have experienced considerable frustration with the exchange’s performance, and we regret the difficulties they have had."

"Xerox is fully committed to getting all aspects of Nevada Health Link right, and we’re pulling in resources from throughout our company to achieve this goal," Wasmer said.

Hager added, "We're working with Xerox everyday trying to make sure this thing works and we are pushing them very hard."

If he could do things differently, Hager said he would've included brokers earlier in the planning and shifted billing duties to the insurance carriers.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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Michael Lopardi is the featured reporter of the You Ask. We Investigate. franchise at Action News.