Balance of Power: De-glitching Colorado healthcare

KUSA— Sunday marks the end of the second year's open enrollment for Connect for Health Colorado, and in the final days of the big push: another glitch.

This time, it hit subsidies. The state government and Connect for Health both told 9NEWSthe system accidentally added last year's income to this year's applications, causing people with subsidies to lose them or see them shrink dramatically.

On this Balance of Power, Ellen Daehnick, a former Connect for Health board member appointed and then removed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, discusses her frustrations with the lack of forthright answers from the state's official health insurance exchange.

Balance of Power airs every Sunday at 8:50am on 9NEWS, right before NBC's Meet the Press. Episodes and extended interviews are posted on Sundays to 9NEWS.com.

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Later in the program, 9NEWS political experts Ryan Frazier and James Mejia tackle the practical political struggles that tie into the exchange's problems.

WHO'S IN CHARGE?

Officials with Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing (HCPF)couldn't tell 9NEWSwho is directly in charge of the Shared Eligibility System (SES,) which is where the latest glitch occurred.

"Welcome to my world," Daehnick said. "The answer I got was, 'we've got it under control, just trust us."

In her roughly year-and-a-half on the board of Connect, she says she couldn't get answers to basic questions like this about the systems like SES, which were implemented to make the exchange work.

"You don't have a responsible individual or entity, you don't know who's at fault, or who has the power to fix the problem," Daehnick said. "You want to know who has the power to fix this and make it better."

A LACK OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Daehnick says a similar approach applies to the lack of data from officials about the number of people affected by this latest glitch.

"There's been a pattern over at least the last year-and-a-half that I've been involved with this where if something's unfavorable, it's not measured and it's not reported," Daehnick said.

This de-emphasis of transparency, in her view, ultimately does more harm that forthright ownership and correction of emergent issues would.

"I'm a member of the public just like anyone else. I'm not dumb. I can see through when someone is trying to tell me 'everything's fine, don't look behind the curtain,'" Daehnick said. "In some cases you can make it seem like there's more wrong than may actually be the problem just by the defensiveness and kind of the bunker response to questioning or criticism."

CAN THE SYSTEM WORK?

Daehnick sees a grim future for Connect the way it currently is structured, not just from its strategic decisions to date but also because of the numbers of enrollees and what she sees as an impending financial crisis for the exchange.

"[The] least bad outcome would be that the organization will be folded into the state and become part of a state agency," Daehnick said.

She wants the ACA to work in Colorado, adding that she campaigned for President Obama.

"I just think that it is really unfortunate that so much money has been put towards implementing in Colorado in such a wrongheaded fashion," Daehinick added.

WEB EXTRA

9NEWS political experts Ryan Frazier (R) and James Mejia (D) discuss recently exposed flaws with Connect for Health Colorado, the one leader they believe should be leading the effort to fix the system, and the political risks for both parties as they navigate universal health care in Colorado.

9NEWS political experts Ryan Frazier (R) and James Mejia (D) ​discuss last week's confrontation between VA Secretary Robert McDonald and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). They explore whether the White House is making a wise move in doubling down on the insult against Coffman and how the congressman's handling ofthe Aurora VA crisis might impact his political future.

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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