December 28, 2011

California Health Benefit Exchange
2535 Natomas Park Drive, Suite 120
Sacramento, CA 95833

Re: CalHEERS Development and Operations Services – Dec. 20, 2011 Draft
Via: www.hbexsolutions@hbex.ca.gov

Dear the California Health Benefit Exchange and the CalHEERs Team:

Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, writes today to share our comments and suggestions regarding the proposed information technology (IT) Request for Proposals (RFP) for the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System (CalHEERS).

First, we commend the CalHEERS Program Sponsors – the California Health Benefit Exchange (the Exchange), Department of Healthcare Services (DHCS) and the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) – for doing what no other state has done before: releasing a draft IT RFP for public comment. Consumers Union applauds the Exchange Board’s leadership in engaging the diverse stakeholder community in dialogue around the development of new systems and policies to support and implement healthcare reform. The recently released draft RFP for a new IT system is a critical step forward in implementation, and we look forward to working with the Exchange Board, DHCS and MRMIB to ensure that it meets its full potential.

The importance of information technology to the success of California’s Health Benefit Exchange and CalHEERS for the individual and small business markets, as well as vital public health programs, cannot be overstated. A high functioning IT system is essential to support smooth access o health coverage, establish the credibility of the Exchange, and move forward on the vision of mproving the health of millions of Californians.

Consumers Union applauds the RFP team for the depth reflected in many aspects of the RFP proposal, providing details essential for designing and implementing a strong IT system. We commend the Exchange and its agency partners in crafting vendor guidelines that strive to promote a streamlined eligibility and enrollment process that enables consumers to access coverage accurately, smoothly, and efficiently.

Attached are Consumers Union’s detailed comments in the solicitation matrix. We look forward to working with you in the coming year to see California’s dream of health coverage for all Californians reach fruition.

Sincerely,

Julie Silas Elizabeth M. Imholz
Senior Policy Analyst Special Projects Director West Coast Office
1535 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-2512
(415) 461-6747