Depth of Hawaii health exchange probe unclear
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Depth of Hawaii health exchange probe unclear

  • STAR-ADVERTISERA screenshot of the Hawaii Health Connector website.
    A screenshot of the Hawaii Health Connector website.

The scope of a federal review of Hawaii’s troubled health insurance exchange was unclear Friday after the U.S. Government Accountability Ofice said it has not yet determined how deeply it might investigate.

The statement by the federal agency came one day after state Sen. Sam Slom said he was told by a legislative adviser at the GAO that Hawaii would be among a handful of states to be investigated.

Slom said he was told Hawaii would be involved because there was so much interest.

However, GAO spokesman Chuck Young said in an email that he believes Slom misunderstood.

"GAO will indeed be looking generally at state exchanges, but a list of which ones we will examine in more detail is still under development," Young wrote.

He added that the office has already announced an investigation of the Oregon health exchange. Young declined to answer questions beyond his emailed statement.

Slom on Friday stood by his announcement and said he was told about the investigation by GAO adviser David Lewis in a phone call.

"There was no misunderstanding," Slom said. "We had a lengthy discussion about the whole situation, and Hawaii was one of the states."

Slom said Lewis confirmed the agency would investigate whether the Hawaii Health Connector followed procedures regarding security issues and how it used federal funds.

Lewis did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment. An agency directory published in January lists Lewis as a legislative adviser.

The GAO is a nonpartisan congressional agency that audits federal programs. Slom had sent it a letter in late March requesting an investigation into the way Hawaii spent or planned to spend more than $200 million in federal grant money.

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