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Exchange: Health link problems known months before launch

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Exchange: Health link problems known months before launch

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The first signs of problems with the troubled Nevada Health Link came roughly seven months before the system went live and testing of the health exchange was rushed to make tight deadlines, an exchange official revealed Tuesday.

Shawna DeRousse, chief operating officer of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said the agency learned in February, 2013, that a subcontractor hired by developer Xerox had fallen behind ahead of the Oct. 1 launch date.

By July, developers had not gained much ground; additional resources did not arrive as soon as they should have and the extra help that did come was directed to work on the Medicaid portion of the product, the COO said.

DeRousse made the comments before the Nevada Board of Examiners, which approved a $1.5 million contract on Tuesday for an external assessment by Deloitte in hopes of fixing the problem-plagued system.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the board, made it clear that he is annoyed at Xerox, who is leading the $72 million project.

"We can't go through this again," said Sandoval. "We, being the state of Nevada, cannot go through this again so I am really banking on Deloitte to get this done, to be able to identify what the issues are and get them corrected."

DeRousse said the system was tested before going live but called the testing period "severely truncated" and much shorter than it could have been. The deadline to enroll for 2014 is March 31 yet parts of the system still are not finished or fixed, she said.

Xerox has taken heavy criticism for its performance. In February, exchange executive director Jon Hager announced his resignation.

Sandoval expressed concern in hiring Deloitte to review system problems as new glitches continue to be identified.

Representatives of Deloitte said they are already preparing for a five week review. The company built Nevada's new Medicaid portal and four other state exchanges (Washington state, Kentucky, Connecticut and Rhode Island), which the company calls among the most successful in the nation.

The governor pointed out that Deloitte and Xerox are competitors in the government health care industry, creating for an awkward relationship in the upcoming review.

The state said Deloitte finished in second place during the bid process for the health link contract, just four points behind Xerox.

Greg Vitiello with Xerox said the company is prepared to fully cooperate in the review.

The review will look at four areas: management, technology and infrastructure, solutions and people, a Deloitte representative said. The company stressed that access to information from Xerox would be key in the review process.

The state board that oversees the exchange is set to meet on Thursday and discuss creating a special enrollment period after the March 31 deadline for people who ran into trouble trying to purchase insurance.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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