Access Health CT reaches milestone with OK to link to federal data center

Access Health CT, the agency formed to develop the state's health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has received approval to connect with the federal data center that will make it possible to determine eligibility and enroll people when the online marketplace goes live on Oct. 1.

The quasi-public agency announced Monday that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had granted the approval after successful conclusion of testing.

"This is a major milestone," Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Access Health CT, said in a news release.

Kathleen Tallarita, spokeswoman for Access Health CT, said threats in Congress to remove funding for the Affordable Care Act are having no effect on Connecticut's efforts to get its online system running by next week.

"It hasn't changed anything," she said Monday.

Funding is already in place to support operation of the Connecticut system through the initial period, she said. State residents will be able to purchase health insurance through the exchange that would provide coverage beginning Jan. 1. "We're moving forward," Tallarita said.

By connecting to the federal data hub, the Connecticut marketplace will be able to verify applicant information through the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal sources, Access Health CT said in the news release. The information will also be used to determine eligibility for tax credits, which would lower monthly premium costs to those signing up.

Later this week, outreach workers for Access Health CT will be at two locations in the eastern Connecticut region to provide information about health care reform and how people can enroll through the online marketplace. The outreach teams will be at the Generations Family Health Center Health Fair, 40 Mansfield Ave., Willimantic, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. They will also be at the Durham Fair from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The fair is located at 24 Town House Road.

For information, visit: www.accesshealthct.com.

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