Hawaii health exchange becomes political battleground


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Partisan battles over the Affordable Care Act continue to rage in the states, with Hawaii being the most recent example.

According to Watchdog.org, Hawaii’s Republican party recently turned down a request from the state’s health insurance exchange to use party leadership and legislators to recruit residents for the exchange.

In an angry response, Kayla Berube, executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, said the state’s Republicans are willing to promote policies that ensure people have better access to care and allows them to keep their plans and doctors, but the Affordable Care Act fails to do that, according to Watchdog.org.

She also pointed to technology glitches in the state’s website, something she found unacceptable after the state received approximately $204 million from the federal government to set up the exchange.

“The Hawaii Health Connector has received over $200 million in federal funding, which would seem like plenty of money to avoid the failures we have witnessed in the first three months. Where did that money go?” Berube said.

Berube is not the first to question the site, which the National Review called the worst in the nation.

Sonny Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s chief information officer, appeared Dec. 12 before state lawmakers and said the site was not secure enough — specifically, it was not complex enough to keep “very sophisticated foes” from obtaining confidential information from the site.

“This is a very serious area and we are not prepared,” Bhagowalia said at the time.

According to health officials, slightly more than 2,000 Hawaii residents and 296 business have enrolled through the Hawaii Health Connector as of Dec. 25.

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Hawaii, Sonny Bhagowalia, States