BOSTON (AP) — Software ordered by Massachusetts to fix its hobbled health care exchange passed initial tests, renewing hopes that the state could finally have a fully operational website by year's end, officials said Thursday.
The breakdown dramatically slowed the state's transition to the federal Affordable Care Act from its own first-in-the-nation universal health insurance law that provided a model for President Barack Obama's plan.
Massachusetts severed ties earlier this year with the lead contractor on its health exchange, CGI Group, and has been forced to shuffle more than 200,000 of its residents into temporary Medicaid coverage.
In May, state officials unveiled a "dual-track" approach that called for buying software that has powered insurance marketplaces in other states while also laying the groundwork for a switchover to the federal government's health insurance market, should that be necessary.
Maydad Cohen, a special assistant to Gov. Deval Patrick, told the Massachusetts Health Connector board the hCentive software cleared several key tests after its initial release last month, prompting federal officials to authorize the state to continue pursuing its current strategy.
A final decision on whether to go forward with the hCentive solution is expected early next month following the rollout of an enhanced version of the program.
Cohen said the goal was a fully functional exchange before the next ACA enrollment period beginning Nov. 15.
"I don't know where we are going to be at open enrollment right now, but I am increasingly, cautiously optimistic about our ability to deliver the hCentive product," Cohen told reporters after briefing the board.
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