Hospitals Worried About Impact of Insurance Exchanges

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 12:00 am  

Getting People to Sign Up

One of the first hurdles hospital executives face is encouraging the 500,000 uninsured Arkansans to sign up for insurance.

At Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville, CEO Debra Wright said her frustration began with the hospital trying to become a “certified application counselor” organization to help uninsured people get insurance through the marketplace.

“It’s very important that we have these counselors on-site,” Wright said.

She said the hospital applied to be a CAC in September but, as of last week, hasn’t heard back from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“I was told that CMS was trying to hire more people to process these applications from hospitals and other organizations that were applying,” Wright said.

One source at CMS, who asked not to be identified, said last week that Howard Memorial’s application was being processed and that the hospital should hear from CMS soon.

Cunningham, of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said some hospitals in Arkansas have been notified that they will be CAC organizations while others haven’t.

Darren Caldwell, the administrator of DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home and Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas, said he’s trying to spread the word about the marketplace in his communities.

He also said that he will start making a stronger push beginning next week.

“I think some of the bugs will be worked out by then, and the sites won’t be hit so heavy,” Caldwell said, referring to widespread reports of health insurance exchange websites being overwhelmed with traffic during the first days of operation.

Navigating through the insurance marketplace is no easy task, said Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization based in Washington, D.C.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.