Saturday, July 26, 2014         

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Hawai'i Health Connector granted one-third of fund request

By Kristen Consillio


A key committee of House and Senate lawmakers has granted the Hawai'i Health Connector $1.5 million of the $4.7 million it said is necessary to run the troubled health insurance exchange for the first half of next year.

The Connector, which is responsible for implementing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in Hawaii, is projecting a $4.7 million deficit for the first six months of 2015 once the remainder of $204.3 million in federal funds expire at the end of 2014.

The Connector will need to reduce spending to survive.

"Obviously the decision was just made so we're going to have to go back and evaluate and figure out how we can operate," Tom Matsuda, the Connector's interim executive director, said Friday. "This is not going to take effect until the first half of calendar year 2015 so we have eight months to make some adjustments. We just have to figure out how to make it work."

The bill still must be approved by the full House and Senate.

The nonprofit online marketplace has spent roughly half of the $204.3 million to build a system that has been plagued with software problems since its launch on Oct. 15, two weeks late.

The federal government didn't grant the Connector an extension to spend the remaining federal dollars beyond this year and its only source of revenue is a 2 percent fee on health insurance plans sold on the exchange.

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