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Posted: Monday, May 12th, 2014 10:24 AM HST

Insurance CEO: Shut down Hawaii health exchange

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) The chief executive of Hawaii's largest health insurance company is calling on Hawaii to shut down its beleaguered health insurance exchange, which was set up as part of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Hawaii Medical Services Association President and CEO Michael Gold says the state shouldn't keep spending money on the Hawaii Health Connector, a system that he says is financially unsustainable and does not work.

Gold says Hawaii should ask the federal government for an exception to the part of the Affordable Care Act that requires states to set up and run their own insurance exchanges. He thinks businesses should buy approved plans directly from insurance companies, as they have done in the past. He says individuals would do the same, or the federal government could take over that part of the exchange.

Lawmakers on Friday were outraged at Gold's assertion that the state hasn't already pursued flexibility from federal requirements. Rep. Angus McKelvey of West Maui says they sought waivers from the federal government and were told they had to wait until 2017.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's health care transformation coordinator, Beth Giesting, says the state already is pursuing ways to streamline the exchange by removing it as the middle-man between employers and insurers, and seeking waivers from the federal government.

The Legislature also passed a bill setting up a task force to pursue the waiver.

The rollout of Hawaii's health exchange was delayed and plagued with technical problems.



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