POSTED: 03:30 p.m. HST, Apr 17, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 04:01 p.m. HST, Apr 17, 2014
State Sen. Sam Slom says the U.S. Government Accountability Office will investigate the Hawaii Health Connector's use of $204 million in federal grants.
Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) complained in March to the GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates federal government spending for Congress, that Hawaii had spent more than $80 million on information technology contracts on a website that didn't work.
The bulk of the IT contracts went to embattled contractor CGI Group Inc., the same company that built the problematic federal exchange. Hawaii had the lowest enrollment rate in the country at fewer than 8,000 as of the deadline to enroll on March 31. The Connector has extended enrollment to April 30 for people who tried but couldn't complete the application process.
Slom said that in response to his letter dated March 27, the GAO said it will include Hawaii in its investigations of six other states that received federal grants to build health insurance exchanges, the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The agency will investigate whether the Connector followed procedures regarding the use of federal funds as well as issues pertaining to security, Slom said.
A representative of the GAO couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.
Slom said in a news release that taxpayers and legislators should be outraged by the Connector's lack of planning and money management, adding that "this is not a partisan issue, this is an economic issue."
Officials from Hawaii's health exchange have said the exchange is not financially sustainable. The Legislature is considering supporting the exchange through funds or a fee to insurance companies.
Connector officials said they had not yet heard about the investigation Thursday, although they responded to information requests from the GAO in February.
"The Connector has not received any recent requests from the GAO," executive director Tom Matusda said in a statement. "However, the Connector will respond appropriately to any request from the GAO."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.