December 18, 2013

Hartford – State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21), ranking member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Insurance Committee, today raised a series of questions concerning the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Connecticut. Senator Kelly expressed his concerns in a letter to fellow Insurance Committee members and is seeking a public hearing with Access Health CT’s CEO Kevin Counihan to address questions Counihan has left unanswered since testifying before the committee on November 22.

“The Insurance Committee meeting raised more questions than answers,” said Senator Kelly. “In the past few weeks since that meeting, we have seen more individuals lose their insurance coverage due to the Affordable Care Act and we have seen continued confusion, and mistakes, from Access Health CT. In fact, more people in Connecticut have lost their insurance under the Affordable Care Act than have registered. The deadline to get insurance is upon us and the people of Connecticut deserve clear and honest answers from their elected officials and the executives we have entrusted to run this program.

“Supporters of the Affordable Care Act said health insurance was a right – so why has nothing been done to help those who lost their insurance plans? Why did the governor choose to reject the president’s fix to restore plans for those who lost coverage? We are at a point where calling for a public hearing in an attempt to rectify the situation is the best we can do. If we cannot restore insurance coverage for those in need, we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to fix the system we are stuck with.”

In his letter, Senator Kelly raised questions concerning the following issues: accurate information, shopping experience, sustainability, clear messaging and privacy concerns.

“We all share the goal of reducing the number of uninsured in the state and improving healthcare outcomes for all of our state’s residents. A public hearing, where Mr. Counihan is prepared to answer these questions, will help us achieve these goals,” said Senator Kelly.

Senator Kelly asks the following questions in his letter:

1) What assurances can we give individuals who sign up for a plan through Access Health CT that information about their plan benefits and costs are accurate?

2) Why are there still issues with the usability of the website and what is being done to correct these problems?

3) Why don’t we know the number of young people who will need to purchase insurance through the exchange to make Access Health CT successful and what steps can be implemented now to ensure sustainability without the need to resort to taxpayer assistance?

4) What are the enrollment numbers for small businesses through the exchange and what obstacles do small businesses face in the sign up process?

5) What has been done to address privacy concerns that Connecticut residents have expressed?

“My questions address a broad range of issues we need to be concerned about. This includes usability of the Access Health CT website. Individuals have repeatedly shared with me their frustrations with the website, which is not customer friendly or broker friendly. Some individuals have reported that the process to sign up for an insurance plan can take up to three hours. We are running out of hours to get these people registered before the December 23 deadline and we need to know the extent of this problem.”

In addition to these questions, Senator Kelly stressed the need for full transparency from Access Health CT, especially considering recent reports that highlighted incorrect information shared with enrollees in October.

“We should know when they discovered issues on their site, who knew about them and what decisions were made outside of the public eye. Moving forward, I hope that the governor and Access Health CT will be honest with the public about everything from website glitches to foreseeable policy drops.

“What we need to focus on is not what Connecticut is doing compared to other states, but rather what Connecticut is doing for our people. Our system is far from perfect, and time is running out. We need to sit down, admit our flaws and explore solutions.

“At the very least, I am asking for an open public vetting; an opportunity to ask questions and share knowledge once more, between our elected officials, Access Health CT and the public. I hope that this public hearing will restore peace of mind to many.”