Silver State Exchange problems extend beyond website

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Updated: 3/06 8:52 pm
CARSON CITY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The frustration level is high for some trying to sign up for healthcare under Nevada's Silver State Exchange.

The March 31 deadline is quickly approaching, but many who are trying to sign up are simply not able to do so.

The problems appear to go far beyond the website, which is still a serious problem.  The contractor, Xerox, said each week, it finds 10 new coding defects. Based on the information provided, the company is not keeping up with those coding fixes that continue to mount.

But the website is just a small glimpse of a bigger picture that paints serious problems, with no quick fix in sight.

Rebecca Montero is a licensed broker who helps customers sign up for health coverage under the exchange. Her job is to serve as advocate and she works free of charge, but she says helping her clients obtain coverage through the exchange is challenging.

"They don't know if they have coverage," said Montero. "Their bills aren't going out correctly. People that never signed up for coverage are receiving bills.  A lot of things are happening. We see it every day and we're dealing with it everyday."

Her colleague, Barbara Hartman, echos her concerns and said it is impacting other brokers. "A lot of the brokers have stepped aside and said we're just not going to do it because there are too many problems out there right now."

Hartman took her complaints to the exchange board on Thursday. She spoke about a customer who has paid for coverage in January and February.  It is now March and still no coverage. "I haven't had a single client who has gone all the way through successfully."

Representatives from Xerox gave an update on its corrective actions, and told the board it is working through all the problems.  It was a presentation not well-received by brokers like Hartman, who say time is running out.

"It's not reality," said Hartman. "They can make their numbers say whatever they are, but the reality is I live and breathe it with my clients."

To date, Xerox confirmed around 20,000 people have signed up for coverage, but thousands of applications are still backlogged in the system. Chairman Barbara Smith-Campbell said that is something they feared. As for extending the deadline, Smith-Campbell said, "Where they don't know if they have coverage or not, we're working with CMS right now to see if we can extend open enrollment."

The board did agree to hire Deloitte Consulting for up to $1.5 million to do an assessment of the entire exchange.  This would identify problems and propose ways to fix them, but it will not happen before the deadline.

As far as penalties, one broker said they could be substantial. He said a family of four making $50,000 a year could potentially face a fine as high as $1,600 next year.
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