National Health IT Coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal last week asked his advisers to come up with a solution on how to streamline federal and state systems for enrolling people applying for health insurance benefits under the law.
Government HealthIT reports that Blumenthal asked members of the Standards Committee to start to create standards for exchanging eligibility and enrollment data electronically between the federal and state health and social health programs and services organizations.
Congress and the administration want to facilitate the process for individuals who want to find out whether they are eligible for benefits under the law, which calls for setting up 50 new state health insurance plan exchanges for people who lack coverage. Potential beneficiaries would check their eligibility for those benefits online, where the data necessary to enroll an applicant might be spread across separate social service and agency databases.
The challenge will be to standardize eligibility data that is common to all relevant programs, and Blumenthal said the point is to make the process of buying health insurance as easy as buying something from online shopping site Amazon.
He also said his agency has initiated talks about the coordination needed for enrollment standardization with other agencies in the Health and Human Services Department, meetings that will include the Internal Revenue Service and the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development. According to Blumenthal, these organizations have regular electronic contacts with people who are uninsured and are potentially eligible for substantial federal subsidies for expanded federal programs starting in 2014.
In the health reform law, the Health and Human Services Department has 180 days from enactment to come up with the standards, “a demanding deadline to do something that has been the holy grail of social services,” Blumenthal said.