NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 13, 2013

Flawed state health insurance site put back online after fixes fail

BOSTON — Persistent technical problems that have complicated the efforts of tens of thousands of residents trying to sign up for health coverage through the state’s new Obamacare website have forced Massachusetts health officials to move on to Plan B in an effort to ensure that residents who need new policies by the end of the month don’t see a lapse in coverage.

Health Connector officials also appear to be losing their patience with vendor CGI, the same information technology company responsible for the federal health connector website that has failed to deliver the type of system envisioned when the state and UMass Medical School signed a $69 million contract to build the site.

The state’s health insurance exchange website — mahealthconnector.org — was taken down Wednesday afternoon for scheduled fixes and maintenance. CGI was due to make upgrades to the glitch-plagued website and install new functions, such as real-time eligibility determination and enrollment processes.

The site was scheduled to be down from 2 p.m. until 5 a.m. yesterday, but Health Connector executive director Jean Yang said yesterday that it was put back online at 9:45 p.m. when the vendor reported that the upgrades were not working correctly.

“Obviously, we are just a couple weeks before [Jan. 1] and everyone’s focus is on coverage for [Jan. 1]. The highest priority for the health connector is to ensure that everyone who needs coverage for [Jan. 1] will be able to have the coverage they need without delay or gaps ... We believe we have a path to achieve that,” Yang told the Connector board at its monthly meeting.

Health Connector officials said they planned to come back to the board in January with recommendations to hold CGI accountable for “the failures to date.” In the meantime, the Connector has boosted its call-center staff from 65 in October to 155 and plans to add more employees through December.

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