Hawaii Health Connector enrollments near transition

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HONOLULU (AP) — Nearly 40,000 Hawaii Health Connector enrollments are shifting to the federal healthcare.gov site in a week.

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HONOLULU (AP) — Nearly 40,000 Hawaii Health Connector enrollments are shifting to the federal healthcare.gov site in a week.

Hawaii Health Connector Executive Director Jeff Kissel said $300 million in taxpayer dollars would have been saved if the state had used the federal program to enroll residents.

Medicaid will spend $27 million to connect its system to the federal site.

“Hawaii should never have had to build its own exchange. It was a costly event and mistakes were made,” he said. “If this had never happened Medicaid would have saved hundreds of millions and the Connector would have saved hundreds of millions and we still would’ve been able to bring the tax benefits into the state for our population.”

It’ll cost the state another $5 million to archive data and decommission the system.

The state decided to create its own exchange over concerns the federal site would conflict with Hawaii’s 1974 Prepaid Health Care Act, which provides medical coverage for employees who work 20 hours per week or more. The act is credited with the state’s low rate of uninsured individuals.

The Connector’s expensive, glitch-prone system debuted two weeks late in 2013. The system cost roughly $142 million to build.

Stephen Nii owns Nii Superette and appeared in several ads promoting the connector.

“If you really want to kill something beyond belief, make it difficult for the customer to make a payment because you can’t contact them or even better, don’t issue a bill,” he said. “That is the nail in the coffin. I have faith in the (Affordable Care Act). I lost faith in the Health Connector.”

The Connector ran out of money for the program’s small business component earlier in 2015.

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“This was an orchestrated disaster that crippled the benefit of the (Affordable Care Act) in Hawaii. The persons who should accept primary responsibility for this disaster are the leaders of the Hawaii Health Connector,” Nii said.

“We should investigate this fully from top to bottom and hold people accountable. They did $140 million of disservice to this state.”

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