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Republican Lawmaker Questions Access Health CT’s Success

by Christine Stuart | Dec 18, 2013 6:02pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired

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Sen. Kevin Kelly

Sen. Kevin Kelly, a Republican from Shelton who voted against a 2011 bill that created Connecticut’s insurance exchange, held a press conference Wednesday to say that he wants to make sure residents who lost coverage under the federal law are able to get it.

In Connecticut, the Insurance Department determined back in November that 38,561 policies will not be continued under the Affordable Care Act. That means residents with those policies will have to find new health insurance plans either through the exchange or outside the exchange.

“Every policyholder in the individual market was offered either early renewals of their existing policies, or if their policies were being discontinued, were offered ACA compliant policies by their carrier,” according to Access Health CT. “No one was left without an option for coverage as required by law.”

At a hearing on Nov. 22, officials from the Insurance Department told the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee that they spoke to all of the carriers to find out if they would take advantage of President Barack Obama’s offer to continue offering the non-compliant plans in Connecticut.

“The simple answer is that they would not,” a memo from the Insurance Department reads.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy decided back on Nov. 22 that the state would not take Obama up on his offer to give insurance companies an opportunity to continue those plans for one year.

“The insurance companies have made it clear that the policies they have not extended, they are not going to extend,” Malloy said. “They’ve also made it clear some people have misinterpreted the information that’s out there and not renewed when they could have. And they also pointed out a lot of people who could renew have renewed.”

Kelly, who is the ranking Republican member of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said that the idea behind the Affordable Care Act is to insure more people, not fewer people.

“Now that we have this law and we have this program we need to make sure that it works,” Kelly said.

Access Health CT maintains that’s exactly what it’s doing. “To date, we have enrolled over 46,000 members, over half of whom enrolled in private health insurance plans, the highest percentage in the country,” Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said Wednesday in a statement.

Frustrated with the lack of information from Access Health CT, the quasi-public agency in charge of Connecticut’s insurance exchange, Kelly held a press conference Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building to highlight a number of issues raised in recent news reports.

He pointed to the 2,400 policies sold to residents while incorrect pricing information was being displayed on the exchange website.

Inaccuracies regarding deductibles and co-insurance rates impacting all 19 individual health plans were discovered Sept. 26, Counihan said last week. But the decision was made to go live with the website on Oct. 1 regardless of the errors in the system.

Counihan has said that around Sept. 29 his team brought the problem to the Connecticut Insurance Department, which agreed that it would be a good idea to create a warning statement for the website. He said the warning was placed in three locations on the site, and those have since been removed after the rate information was corrected.

“I do not believe that this situation was handled in a transparent manner by Access Health CT, and I would like to know exactly what went wrong, who knew about the issues, and what was done,” Kelly wrote in Wednesday’s letter to Counihan.

Counihan said last week that the issue was resolved by the end of October and that the 2,400 policyholders were contacted by both phone and letter to make sure the plan they chose was the one they wanted.

But aside from early failures, Kelly said he’s hearing “numerous” complaints from his constituents about the usability of the website.

“The process of signing up for health insurance through the site can take as long as three hours, according to some of the complaints I have heard,” Kelly wrote in his letter to Counihan. “These technical issues may not be as widespread as the problems faced by the federal insurance exchange, but they do exist in Connecticut.”

Kelly said his goal is to make sure that people who want to purchase insurance on the exchange have an opportunity to do that.

For those who want coverage on Jan. 1 the deadline to sign up is midnight Monday, Dec. 23. Open enrollment will go through the end of March and anyone can purchase a plan if they lose insurance through an employer or experience any number of other life changing events.

In an effort to serve an increasing number of customers as that first deadline approaches, Access Health CT said it increased call center staff by over 80 percent in the past week to better serve the significantly higher call volume.

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(11) Comments

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | December 18, 2013  8:07pm

Kelly doesn’t know what he is talking about.  Just signed up today.  Cut my insurance bill in half (with tax credit) and cut my deductible from $10k to $2k!  (Took a little longer to get approved, but that was mostly because I spelled my own name wrong. Oops.)

I told a Republican in my building about my success and he said, “all well and good, but who’s going to pay for that tax credit.”  Turns out he’s on Medicaid.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | December 19, 2013  8:02am

Republican legislators are desperate for this not to work. Absolutely desperate. They are so desperate for it not to work it’s not even funny. At our Greenwich legislative breakfast, our delegation was practically crowing about the fact that the sign up figures on the exchange were lower than predicted. But during the Q & A I asked them about possible undercounting because of people like myself & my boyfriend whose policies were cancelled, went onto the exchange, realize we don’t qualify for a subsidy, and then started researching. For us, since we can’t get a subsidy, there was a wide variety of plans available off the exchange from the exact same carriers. I reduced my premiums by 30% AND got dental for an additional $20 a month, something I was never able to get under my cancelled small business plan with Anthem. And people like us, who are benefiting from ACA but aren’t signing up through the exchange, aren’t being counted in the signup numbers.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 19, 2013  9:03am

Sarah, that’s great but if you arent on the exchange you arent getting the insurance that the govt is requiring. Thats the issue. The exchange has mandates that many people dont want and for most people the reality is that the out of pocket that they would face should they have to use a lot of insurance (including premiums and deductibles) is greater than what they would have paid worst possible case with their own plan.

This ACA is all about control. The number of doctors accepting it is dropping which means less access to health care in the long run.

If you dont think its about control why is there no option that allows for people to have low premium catastrophic coverage without all the bells and whistles. I have heard some people say that its because if you have more coverage for regular doctors visits you’ll be healthier and reduce the chances of needing catastrophic care. OK, I get that but if more people decide that I need to go to the doctors office more often because I’m paying through the nose for this insurance, how do you fit that many more people into the schedules of the doctors?

I think everyone agrees that you shouldnt lose everything because you couldnt qualify for coverage and you got sick, but this was not the way. Nationwide, from an actuarial standpoint the math does not work and thats from top Democrats that voted for this bill because the concept is noble, but what they have done to it regulation wise is a disaster.

Sarah you just wait a few months until people with pretty good coverage through employers start losing that all for this glorious plan of central govt control in peoples lives. Then even later when the IRS starts asking questions and auditing because someone made a minor mistake on their eligibility and income information you’ll really see what monster has been created.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | December 19, 2013  10:50am

That’s not actually true, Joe. These are new policies starting 1/1/2014. My question for Republicans is this - and I asked it directly to Justin Amash, who voted many times to repeal ACA - what, exactly, is their plan for families like mine? It’s all very well to say “Repeal ACA! Repeal ACA!” But when I ask “what is your proposed alternative? How are you going to protect me and my family from the abuses that we have ALREADY EXPERIENCED from health insurance companies on an ongoing basis for over 14 years?” they’ve got nada. Zilch. Except “free market” blah blah blah. And it’s blatantly obvious isn’t working. The only thing that’s working about that is that the Chairmen of Anthem and UHC are getting very rich while cutting more services to policy holders every year. So spare me the lies, and the propaganda. I live this.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 19, 2013  12:23pm

Thanks for calling me a liar Sarah.

Last I looked this was a Federal Law and the Republicans do have alternatives that do cover people for pre-existing conditions, and that do allow young people without jobs to stay on their parents insurance until 25.

These alternatives have been discussed in detail in the media.

Had you seen that you would also see that the Dems are trying to back the Republicans into a corner by putting the onus to fix this law on them because they have the House.

They probably wont do it until Obamas approval breaks the record again for the worst of any President in history and the Senate is theirs. They’ll wait for millions of more people to get good and mad.

Remember something Dear Sarah. When this bill was passed the Republicans had ideas to fix it and no amendments were allowed so spare me your no alternative stuff.

Also why should they bail out the Dems?

They werent the ones that said ....ooops wait a second…LIED…“if you like your existing coverage you can keep it and if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.”

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 19, 2013  4:32pm

Sarah bigger government to take over 1/6th of the economy was not the answer.

Welcome to the 28% that think like you. I’m proudly part of the other 72% that see things for what they are and don’t blindly follow what they hear. I’m glad that you got insurance at less cost, but at what price to the rest of the country and I dont just mean in dollars?

A Gallup poll found that 72% of Americans believe big government to be a bigger threat to their country’s future than either big business or big labor. That’s a record high for the poll, which Gallup has been asking voters for half a century.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 19, 2013  5:53pm


Once again, Joebig proceeds from inaccurate assumptions. The ACA, in fact, mandates insurance coverage and regulates the quality of the policies while also subsidizing only those whose incomes are too low to afford plans rated with appropriate coverage. private insurers remain in the marketplace, albeit with actual regulation for the first time. The ACA is not gov’t-run healthcare.

But here again, Joe opts for the right-wing rhetoric of the gov’t-takeover boogeyman and offers bogus statistics of a survey that, while it may have occurred, offers meaningless data because it appears to have been based on the idea that the ACA was a gov’t takeover of healthcare. Which it most certainly is not. That would be single-payer. So yeah… welcome, Sarah, to the club where only about 28% were smart enough to see a garbage survey.

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | December 19, 2013  6:31pm

@Joebigjoe - That 72% ‘stupidity level’ you speak of is because not only you, but elected officials like Sen. Kevin Kelly lie about the ACA.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | December 19, 2013  7:08pm

It’s so interesting that Joe thinks I’m for “big government” overall because I support ACA. So black and white, aren’t you, Joe?

posted by: dano860 | December 19, 2013  10:41pm

None of it is healthcare.
Plain and simple, insurance.
The cost of healthcare has been and will be affected by the application or lack thereof of insurance.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 20, 2013  10:21am

Sarah I read your peices so yes you are for big government.

As for semantics of govt run vs not, Obama just changed the rules again UNILATERALLY and the insurance companies are being made to look like the bad guys because IT systems and satte insurance commissioners arent set up to act that way.

When one man can change the rules in a highly regulated industry, that folks is govt run.