House HIX Testimony Falls on Deaf Ears

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , September 11, 2013

The seven-witness panel was almost perfect. It included the four technology contractors charged with getting HIX up and running. If the committee members really wanted to assess the progress and potential problems of HIX then these witnesses, who work each and every day on the front lines of HIX development, were the ones to call.

Representatives from CGI Federal Inc., Equifax Work Solutions, Serco Inc., and Quality Software Services Inc.–firms with decades of experience in government contracting between them—spoke about the systems in place and the testing underway. All of them assured the subcommittee that they were on schedule with their part of the massive HIX project.

Three other witnesses also delivered statements: Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network; Brett Graham, a partner and managing director for Leavitt Partners; and Edward Lenz, senior counsel for the American Staffing Association.

Kraus talked about how her statewide coalition of 60 organizations representing one million clients is helping to implementing the PPACA. Graham outlined the challenges faced by states, and Lenz addressed how the Obama administration has responded to employer concerns.

Typically each hearing includes five minutes of "testimony" from each witness during which time the committee members—at least the ones who show up—listen politely. The rubber really hits the road when the committee members begin their witness questioning.

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