HHS Secretary Wastes No Time-Insurance Exchange Management Changes to Come

With just two weeks under her belt, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced a series of changes that will be made to the federal health insurance marketplace following the enrollment and technological problems that ensued the launch of healthcare.gov earlier this year.

With just two weeks under her belt, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced a series of changes that will be made to the federal health insurance marketplace following the enrollment and technological problems that ensued the launch of healthcare.gov earlier this year. Ms Burwell said that she plans to hire a chief executive officer to oversee the insurance exchange as well as a “second-in-command” as a means of creating a more organized system.

Eight million Americans are currently enrolled in the Obamacare’s 2014 initiative that provided citizens with new healthcare coverage plans—a feat however that was plagued with countless computer glitches and enrollment errors. Technological defects delayed the enrollment process and frustrated millions of American’s trying to obtain new health insurance plans.

Ms Burwell’s announcement hopes to defuse the lingering problems still linked to the initial wave of health insurance coverage sign-ups. The government and insurers continue to sift through the discrepancies in their enrollment records and finalize an automated financial system to pay the insurers.

The new shift in management will divide responsibility among healthcare stakeholders as an attempt at re-organization. The chief executive officer position will help channel responsibility through a chain-of-command system, in which 1 person will make the final decisions.

“These actions will bolster our team and further instill ongoing accountability for reaching milestones, measuring results, and delivering results for the American people. Under this new structure, we bring additional operational and technological fire power and have a clear single point of contact in the Marketplace CEO to streamline decision-making,” Ms Burwell said in a statement.

One health expert applauded the system changes for its response to the issues originally incurred, and for “taking into account the lessons learned.” The official said, “It’s important to have in place a management structure that will have responsibility and accountability for the work that needs to be done,” in reference to the lack of leadership and control in the first round of enrollment. During that time, accountability was blurred between healthcare stakeholders who made regulation decisions and those who designed the computer system, which together created a sort of chaos with no 1 person to take charge.

Ms Burwell has already appointed Andy Slavitt, executive vice president of Optum, from within HHS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as the second-in-command. The government is actively looking to fill the CEO marketplace position as well as the chief technology officer to aid in the maintenance of healthcare.gov.

Changes in management could not have come at a better time, as advocates and critics of Obamacare have been claiming ever since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The changes hope to be finished in time for the next window of health insurance sign-ups in November 2014.

Around the Web

HHS’s Burwell makes management changes [The Washington Post]

Health Site Is Changing Supervision [The New York Times]