CMS Administrator Tavenner Resigns; Deputy Administrator Slavitt Becomes Acting Administrator
Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS Administrator charged with overseeing key elements of ACA implementation, resigned after five years of holding the post. Andrew Slavitt, the Agency’s Principal Deputy Administrator, will step in as Acting Administrator. Slavitt joined CMS in June 2014 from Optum, one of the contractors that helped develop Healthcare.gov. He has since overseen improvements to the site and helped coordinate and manage Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and Marketplace coverage initiatives within the Agency. Slavitt must be confirmed by the Senate.
Federally-Facilitated Marketplace Enrollment Reaches Nearly 7.2 Million
Enrollment as of January 16 in the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace has reached nearly 7.2 million, according to the most recent HHS’ Weekly Snapshot. During the last week to obtain coverage beginning February 1, 400,000 individuals selected a plan, and HHS officials anticipate additional increases as open enrollment enters its final month. The HHS Snapshot has also begun featuring state-by-state cumulative enrollment figures, which indicate that Florida tops the list, with 1.2 million enrollees.
Office of Inspector General Identifies Concerns with CMS’ Contracting Efforts on Healthcare.gov
A new report from HHS’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found numerous shortcomings in CMS’ contracting and procurement processes for Federal Marketplace contractors, which may have contributed to the rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov in October 2013. Among OIG’s key findings are that CMS did not choose a lead systems integrator to help coordinate across contractors, lacked a written acquisition strategy, and did not adequately review two key contractors’ past performance. The report outlined six recommendations to prevent future issues, which CMS agreed with but noted that a majority of the Healthcare.gov contracts did not have the same technical and performance issues, according to Law360.
ACA Helps Reduce Uninsurance Rate and Improves Access to Health Services According to Commonwealth Study
Findings from the 2014 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey indicate that the ACA has made significant strides in reducing the adult uninsurance rate and the difficulties associated with paying for health coverage and services. Marking the first decline since 2001, the number of uninsured individuals decreased from 37 million people in 2010 to 29 million people by 2014 (from 20% to 16% of the population). In addition, the number of working-age adults reporting challenges accessing needed health care services for cost-related reasons declined from 80 million to 66 million from 2012 to 2014 (from 43% to 33% of the population).