Senator Lisa Murkowski today grilled the Administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services over myriad failures and problems being experienced with Alaska's health care exchange in a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Murkowski's frustrations focused on:
Enroll Alaska, the state's health care exchange center, indefinitely suspending operations until fixes can be made to its subsidy calculator.
Only three Alaskans successfully enrolling in the state health care exchange.
Healthcare.gov being shut down for repairs daily at a key time in Alaska: every day from 9pm to 1am.
"I had a meeting a few days ago with the navigators who are trying to facilitate these exchanges including Enroll Alaska that has been set up specifically for this process. These are all folks that want this to work. What I heard from them was "Stop. It's not working.' As of the 29th of October, Enroll Alaska confirmed that there were three Alaskans who had successfully enrolled. There is nobody else who has stepped forward to say they successfully enrolled in the exchange from Alaska One of the things that was troubling in that meeting was to hear that the three people who have enrolled have been given incorrect information."
"Unlike what some might believe here, the sun does not rise and set over Washington, DC or in Eastern Standard Time. So when a family finishes up dinner, does the dishes and puts the kids to bed in Alaska, 9pm is 1am. At the time period when Alaskans can sit and move through any aspect of this exchange, you're shutdown. When will this site be available for all Americans to take a look at?"
"If we're in this situation where we have a concern with the subsidy calculator, we may have three people enrolled and we can't get onto the exchanges when we have downtime, I have Alaskans asking me "What happens to me on January 5th when I have an incident? We have sixty percent of the folks who receive their insurance from Premera -- our largest insurer by a large margin -- they have received cancellation notices. You have that going on, you can't get onto the exchanges .. Alaskans are coming to me and asking what happens if something happens to me the first week of January? Is the individual on the hook? Is it [Department of Health and Human Services] because there's been a glitch here? They want to know "If I fall through the cracks, what happens to me?' I don't have an answer for them. Who is on the hook?"