Key Deadline Friday in Wisconsin’s Race to Implement Obamacare

By Bill Osmulski
MacIver News Service

[Madison, Wisc..] The Doyle Administration is moving quickly to have Wisconsin be one of the first states to implement a health insurance exchange, which the recently passed national health care reform requires of all states by 2014. The effort faces a key deadline this Friday.

The national “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” has given all states four years to establish an AHBE (American Health Benefit Exchange), although more than a dozen states have sued to prevent implementation of the law on various Constitutional grounds.

Currently Wisconsin manages it’s various health care services through a computer system called CARES (Client Assistance for Re-employment & Economic Support). CARES handles over a million transactions a day.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services regularly awards contracts to maintain and enhance that system. Despite no federal or state mandate that it do so, DHS has mandated that the next contract awards will require the vendor to “develop, operate, maintain and enhance an automated system that will support the AHBE.”

The request for proposal was released on May 13, and requires potential vendors to explain how they will comply with federal regulations and provisions for the AHBE.

Yet, the RFP also states “Federal regulations have not been published at the time of the development of the RFP and state business requirements and system requirements have not yet been created.”

However the vendor designs the AHBE, Doyle’s DHS has demanded it “must build upon the existing CARES System architecture or a direct, viable, and sustainable interface with that architecture.”

When the vendors’ proposals are scored, their plans for the AHBE will count towards 10 percent of their total score. The deadline for proposals is this Friday, July 16th. The contract would start on September 1, 2010.

Currently the CARES workload for the state’s vendor is split between 20 percent maintenance and 80 percent development/enhancement. DHS asserts incorporating the construction and maintenance capacity for a health care exchange will not require additional state resources and that the maintenance/development workload ratio will be unchanged despite the addition of the AHBE

The current CARES vendor is Deloitte Consulting L.P. The total fixed monthly price for its services is $110,000. The actual hours invoiced per year are: 146,498 in 2009, 140,808 in 2008, and 121,933 in 2007. DHS allows 25,000 billable hours per month. There are currently 2,000 active CARES workers comprised of state, county and contracted staff.

Other potential vendors who were present at a demonstration on June 2, 2010 include Adobe Systems, Benefit Focus, Ceridian, CGI, Choice Administrators, Compuware, Connecture, ConnnextionsHealth, Dell, IBM, IO Datasphere, Strategem, and Vision IT.

See this video for our previous reporting on this issue.