Senator, what do you view as the biggest challenges facing the Health Benefit Exchange in Colorado?
“I think the two biggest challenges are the timelines and finding the money that it’s going to take to develop an appropriate IT system. Colorado’s had a pretty spotty record in the past with some of their IT systems. We need to have a good system for the Exchange itself, but in addition to that, there needs to be a good eligibility determination process and the reality is our current Colorado Benefits Management System is not going to be up to the task I don’t think. There are some challenges because CBMS already integrates eligibility determination for Medicaid and for human services programs. A lot of states haven’t gone that far to integrate those eligibilities but we have and as a result it’s not just making the distinction between Medicaid and those served in the Exchange because of all the other human services components. You can’t just throw them together.”
What is your opinion of the federal government throwing it to the states to establish their own essential health benefits?
“It sure does create more challenges for the state because we were assuming that there would be some really good guidance but I don’t think there is. So at the same the time the exchange itself is being developed, the rules around what that package is going to look like are working and right now the commissioner of insurance is having some town hall kinds of meetings to try and help determine what those essential benefits will be for Colorado because the exchange is really a marketplace and the commissioner of insurance still has the same role as before.”
Do you have an opinion on whether the Affordable Care Act will stand?
“I believe it will. But whether or not it does, we have said all along our intent is to create an Exchange regardless of what happened it would certainly be harder to deal with some of the financing ultimately of those participants who would be included in the Exchange because the share of the participants is anticipated to be receiving some kind of subsidy. This is the place where they should be getting their insurance.”