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Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups

By   /   February 18, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 91 of 96 in the series Obamacare

THUMBS UP? This photo on the Hawaii Health Connector’ web site maintains the public is enthusiastic about Obamacare, but so far just 3,614 people have signed up

By Malia Zimmerman | Watchdog.org

HONOLULU — Hawaii has the lowest number in the nation of enrollments through its Obamacare exchange, Hawaii Health Connector, according to a Feb. 12 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.

“That’s horrible,” said state Rep. Bob McDermott.

Just 3,614 people enrolled in the state’s exchange, but the report does not disclose how many of those who registered also paid for their health care policies.

HORRIBLE: That’s how Rep. Bob McDermott describes Hawaii’s Obamacare sign ups, still at less than 1 percent of the population

McDermott, who serves on the House Consumer Protection Committee, is one of several state lawmakers considering at least seven bills to “reform” the exchange, and launch a state government take over the nonprofit at a cost of $15 million a year.

The Puunui Republican said he sees are “dollar signs spinning in his head.”

“The exchange is already costing taxpayers $204 million, and the added bureaucracy is increasing costs for consumers and adding more layers for them to go through to get health care,” McDermott said.

The federal government allocated $204 million to Hawaii to operate its exchange and set up its network and website in 2013 and 2014.

By 2015, the Hawaii Health Connector must be self-funded. Funding can come from state subsidies, grants and fees charged to the health care providers on each policy sold. Internally, the Hawaii Health Connector reportedly planned on 300,000 sign ups during two years with a 2-percent fee charged on each policy.

Department of Human Services Director Pat McManahan professed during a Sept. 17, 2013, news conference that the Obamacare exchange would be “transformative” for Hawaii.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie praised the exchange, predicting “hundreds of thousands” of people would benefit in the state of Hawaii.

EPIC FAIL: Gov. Neil Abercrombie with Coral Andrews, then head of the Hawaii Health Connector, at a Sept. 17, 2013 news conference, predicted hundreds of thousands of people in Hawaii would benefit from the exchange. So far just 3,614 signed up

The governor also said the 100,000 people in Hawaii without health insurance would sign up — a prediction that fell short by about 96,386 people. So far, signups are under 1 percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million population.

While the National Review called Hawaii’s exchange an “epic failure,” the Investor Business Daily, like Watchdogorg has in the past, did the math in a Feb. 14 article, noting the Hawaii exchange cost $56,819 per person.

“As the only senator who voted against the establishment of the exchange, I warned against a costly failure. That failure has now been confirmed,” said Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom.

Some local insurance industry experts said because Hawaii is unique in that it has had the Pre-Paid Health Act in place since 1976, which requires businesses offer health insurance to employees working 20 hours a week or more, Hawaii already has a high percentage of its population insured.

Because of the Pre-Paid Healthcare Act, the state also largely was supposed to be exempt from the Obamacare requirements, McDermott said.

House Health Committee Chairman Della Au Belatti said she wants the exchange to work, but thinks the state might be better suited to operate the Hawaii Health Connector. T

he state would need about $15 million a year, Belatti said in a recent news conference.

Her committee passed through measures that would allow the state takeover in 2015, and increase fees to help pay for the operation. The legislation also would require more transparency from the exchange, which has refused to disclose several key facts and figures to the media and to lawmakers, citing its independent nonprofit status.

IT MUST BE SAVED: Rep. Della Au Belatti, chairman of the Health Committee, is heading up the effort in the House to save the local ACA exchange.

The state also must tackle technical glitches that plague the site more than four months after its launch, state officials and industry experts have testified.

According to state technology guru Sanjeev Bhagowalia, the Connector portal is vulnerable to hackers who could expose private information.

Bhagowalia, the state’s IT director, supports a state takeover.

Expenditures, including the $53 million allocated to CGI Group to build the exchange website portal, also caught the attention of lawmakers.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, D-Moanalua, said she warned Hawaii Health Connector executives about past problems with the Canadian-based technology company. The state Department of Taxation spent millions on a GCI contract for a website that still doesn’t work properly.

As Kim predicted, the exchange’s website failed to work as expected for more than two weeks after it launched Oct. 1. Plans and pricing could not be displayed, and the system crashed  when users tried to register.

Since the site relaunched Oct. 15, complaints include cumbersome technology, frequent crashes after the extensive forms are filled out and submitted, confusion over plan pricing and scrambled information transmitted to the health-care providers.

BLACK HOLE: Senate President Donna Mercado Kim says she doesn’t want the state to take over the exchange because it’s a financial black hole.

While the state House has introduced a number of measures to save Obamacare here, Kim said she’s not in favor of the state taking over the exchange operations, calling it a financial “black hole.”

The House has yet to negotiate the final outcome of the pending legislation with the Senate.

“I want to be clear that these measures are a work in progress and allows us to continue to establish a better framework and foundation so that the Health Connector can successfully move forward in fulfilling the goals of the Affordable Care Act,” said Belatti in a recent statement.

“Even as the (health care) landscape changes around us, we need to be able to respond to the developing rules and regulations to allow the Health Connector to move forward in achieving its mission.”

The measures must gain the approval of the majority of the 51-member House before moving to the Senate, and then it goes to the governor for consideration.

The Hawaii Health Connector, meanwhile, has stepped up its advertising efforts in recent days, purchasing exclusive media contracts the Connector won’t make public.

Contact Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com

Part of 96 in the series Obamacare
  1. Obamacare compliance means less money for TN service agencies
  2. The mystery of Obamacare spending in Arkansas
  3. Obamacare raises questions for MD small business owners
  4. Kansas official on Obamacare: ‘Let someone else be the guinea pig’
  5. Obamacare insurance marketplace has plenty of kinks on first day
  6. OR’s Obamacare insurance marketplace hits technological snag
  7. Fail: Day 1 of the New Mexico Obamacare rollout
  8. Senator asks: Do you want this dysfunctional government taking over health care?
  9. Jobs, coverage at risk with Obamacare, MN union health official says
  10. Oregon’s Obamacare ads resemble middle school art
  11. VIDEO: Obamacare vs Affordable Care Act: Comedy triumphs in court of confusion
  12. Patience is key to navigating Illinois’ Obamacare marketplace
  13. Hawaii residents, lawmakers frustrated with health connector glitches
  14. Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  15. NM’s health exchange tries to lure ‘young invincibles’
  16. Obama drama: Senator blames governor for big rate hikes
  17. Progressive group navigates Oregon students through Obamacare
  18. Maddening: Trying to log onto federal health care site
  19. You know that one guy who successfully signed up for Obamacare? He didn’t
  20. What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working
  21. HHS Secretary Sebelius back in FL after embarrassing Obamacare rollout
  22. Health centers enroll Floridians in Obamacare as application problems persist
  23. VIDEO: Stewart skewers Sebelius on Obamacare
  24. Obamacare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  25. Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future
  26. Which way do we go? Obamacare navigator registration in TN in question
  27. NM health exchange tries to ease problems with Obamacare website
  28. CPA says hype over Obamacare small business tax credit is misleading
  29. Obamacare navigator under fire for arrest warrant
  30. Reports of Obamacare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  31. After two weeks, FL online Obamacare enrollees are hard to find
  32. Illinois state governor touts 100K Obamacare enrollees, all in Medicaid
  33. Kansas lawmaker calls for crackdown on Obamacare navigators
  34. WI health care exchange seeing few getting through
  35. Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange relaunches with more glitches
  36. We’ll know next month how many people in NM signed up for Obamacare — maybe
  37. Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up
  38. It took this Delaware woman 11 days to sign up for Obamacare – and she was the first
  39. How many people have signed up for health insurance in VA? Who knows?
  40. What else? NM federal health exchange ads stalled due to website problems
  41. Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with Obamacare glitches
  42. If Obamacare is the next Medicare, will physicians leave en masse?
  43. Three problems that won’t be solved by fixing the Obamacare exchange glitches
  44. Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online
  45. Criticize this: Obamacare premiums a near match to WI disclosures
  46. Report: Missourians will see sharp rise in premiums under Obamacare
  47. Kansas navigators say they’ve enrolled no one in Obamacare
  48. Obamacare too costly for rich Coloradans, Democrat congressman says
  49. Study: Kansas premiums to spike following Obamacare rollout
  50. Hang on to your candy: Creepy Uncle Sam is back
  51. Obamacare or bust: NM Watchdog turned back again
  52. Medical journals, experts refute claim that Medicaid cuts ER use
  53. Arkansas spends $4M on Obamacare ads, wants more
  54. LOL: In July video, HHS bragged about being ‘on schedule’ with Obamacare
  55. Illinois uses Day of the Dead to market Obamacare
  56. Sebelius denies GOP’s Terry ‘unreliable’ Obamacare info
  57. About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans
  58. Broken promise: Obamacare cancels almost 20,000 Kansas health care plans
  59. Top hospitals opt out of Obamacare
  60. Obamacare moves to intensive care
  61. Obamacare provision could lead to more Medicaid fraud
  62. Obamacare: Religious groups want to ‘move mountains’
  63. Obamacare hitting Wisconsin residents with double whammy
  64. Kansas AG: Obamacare threatens consumer privacy
  65. 1,500 in New Mexico have to move out of the high-risk insurance pool
  66. Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions
  67. For Florida’s Obamacare small business exchange, it’s crunch time
  68. Only 877 Wisconsinites have signed up for Obamacare, federal report says
  69. Just 172 in NM have completed Obamacare applications: ‘Woefully inadequate,’ says NMIX board member
  70. With only 346 Oklahomans signed up, leaders decry ‘Obamacare debacle’
  71. Defying Obamacare: ‘Send them the bill,’ NM insurance official says
  72. Kansas Obamacare enrollment dwarfed by nearly 20,000 cancellations
  73. Numbers don’t lie: In Illinois, Obamacare means Medicaid
  74. Wisconsin governor proposes insurance plan to address Obamacare rollout failure
  75. Tennesseans might know Tuesday if they can keep canceled health insurance
  76. People demand answers over Oregon’s Obamacare fail
  77. Calif. says ‘no’ to Obamacare freebies, makes own law
  78. HI health exchange violates federal law, League of Women Voters say
  79. Obamacare video winner: ‘Forget about the price tag’
  80. Harvard study finds ‘striking’ rejection of Obamacare by young Americans
  81. HI health exchange has signed up 574 people, for about $348,000 apiece
  82. Are the uninsured getting Obamacare coverage in Illinois?
  83. Secret Obamacare handbook the feds don’t want you to see is online
  84. Lost in translation: Once-supportive Hispanics turning backs on Obama, ACA
  85. HI Obamacare exchange not fiscally sustainable, lawmakers told
  86. Illinois’ latest Obamacare targets: gold diggers and momma’s boys
  87. Now Democrats are bashing California’s Obamacare exchange, too
  88. Obamacare: For $1.37M we get Richard Simmons in lurid web stream
  89. Obamacare: A welcome mat for IRS horrors
  90. California senator seeks audit of state Obamacare exchange
  91. Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups
  92. CA senator sues Obamacare exchange for causing policy cancellations of 1M
  93. Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota
  94. Video: Watch Creepy Uncle Sam make it rain
  95. Five bright spots surrounding the Obamacare exchange failures
  96. Obamacare architect admitted in 2012 states without exchanges lose subsidies

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Malia Zimmerman co-founded the investigative news organization, Hawaii Reporter, in February 2002. Malia reports daily for KHVH News Radio 830 AM, a local Clear Channel station, and hosts a monthly inspirational television show on the local CBS affiliate called You've Got the Power. Malia has freelanced for ABC 20/20, People magazine, Inside Edition, Fox News and publications such as the Washington Times, Bangkok Post and the Wall Street Journal. Malia and the reporters who worked under her have won numerous awards for their investigative reporting.

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