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Finance Committee Questions Readiness of Health Insurance Marketplace

February 15,2013—At a Feb. 14 Senate Finance Committee hearing, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) Deputy Administrator and Director Gary Cohen discussed the status of the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace. The CCIIO is an office within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and oversees the implementation of insurance-related provisions under health care reform. It is responsible for creating a marketplace that links consumers to the state health exchanges (and related resources) established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, PL. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152).

According to Director Cohen, the marketplace is “on track” to serve all eligible consumers when open enrollment begins on Oct. 1, 2013. The CCIIO has re-launched “HealthCare.Gov” to include a wide range of regularly updated informational resources for consumers. Consumer testing of the on-line application process also is underway, and CCIIO expects to finalize an application template and enrollment process by April. The process will include eligibility confirmation by the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, and Department of Homeland Security.

According to Cohen, their consumer testing indicates that the average person can complete the application in less than 30 minutes. A call center will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for individuals requiring assistance; information will be available in nearly 150 different languages. Additionally, in June CCIIO will begin awarding grants to support the creation of community-based exchange “navigators” to lead local consumer outreach and assistance efforts. When asked by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) how many consumers will likely need assistance, Cohen replied that CCIIO will be prepared to provide as much assistance as is needed.

Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) expressed some concern about the CCIIO’s ability to meet deadlines, support a seamless application process, and “get moving” in time for open enrollment on Oct. 1. He directed Cohen to submit to the Finance Committee by Feb. 19, a detailed list of deadlines, benchmarks, and milestones so that Congress and the Administration can clearly identify “what we’re doing and not doing” to meet the implementation timeline.


Christiane Mitchell
Senior Director Health Care Affairs
Telephone: 202-828-0461


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