Insurance Marketplace for Texas may not launch on Oct. 1

Insurance Marketplace for Texas may not launch on Oct. 1

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The launch of the Affordable Care Act in Texas may be a little bumpy. That's the latest assessment from state officials who say key elements to link into the new health plans remain untested.

The insurance Marketplace for Texas is being built by the federal government. But the new system will also have to sync up with the safety net programs that are also available in the state.

Texas Health and Human Services spokesperson Stephanie Goodman says the agency is still waiting for the feds to send the information needed to test the connection.

"There's been delays in the testing, what we're now hearing is that they probably will not be able to send information to the state October 1st, we're not sure when that will happen," said Goodman.

According to the plan- by October 1st, state Health and Human Services offices like the one along Rutherford Lane, will be among the application sites for enrollment into Obamacare. Computer terminals at most of the agency's Austin locations have been set up to accelerate the sign up process. But problems may now make it necessary to screen each application manually.

"Well we've been told from the start there is no wrong doors. You can apply anywhere but what we've learned is because of some technical issues there may be some dead ends for a little while," said Goodman.

Thursday, President Obama was more optimistic the coming launch will be successful.

"...we've seen tremendous progress over the last several months and are confident that starting at the beginning of next month people are going to be able to start signing up for health care, in many cases, for the first time," said the President.

For the past several weeks, government contractors have been scrambling to get everything plugged in. During a Congressional Hearing, earlier this week, they promised it will be up and running come October 1. But others are not so sure.

"The marketplace implementation has achieved all of its key milestones," said Cheryl Campbell, who is with CGI Federal.

The assurances from government contractors did not sway Republicans at the hearing like U.S. Rep Joe Pitts (R-PA)

"I'm a little skeptical the system can actually function as advertised on October 1, given the myriad of missed deadlines by the administration," said Pitts.

An analyst with Leavitt Partners, Brett Graham, testified during the hearing that several states have done a lot to get ready, but not enough.

"Where we stand, there is not a single state that is completely ready for open enrollment, three weeks away," said Graham.

Democrats have criticized Capitol Hill Republicans for holding the hearing, although some like, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) admitted there could be some problems.

"Inevitably there will be some glitches and hiccups in implementation of this law and I expect every time they find any hiccup the republicans here in Washington will make a hue and cry about it," said Waxman.

With time running out every glitch will make the process difficult for some families.

"It's not going to be quite as convenient for people because they may have to put in two applications one for their children one for themselves but it will be the way they get help the fasts in those early days," said Goodman.

A final assessment of how well this new doorway to healthcare works may not take place until much later next year.

Regardless of how smooth the coming enrollment will be there will still be a large group of people who will not be able to get health insurance. That's because a key part of the Obamacare plan the expansion of Medicaid will not be done in Texas.

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