Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2018

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Woman dies after waiting months for operation through Nevada’s Silver State Exchange

A 64-year-old Las Vegas woman died Monday after waiting more than two months for insurance coverage and brain surgery because of problems with Nevada’s health care exchange.

Linda Rolain died from complications following brain surgery in mid-May, according to her husband, Robert. Since April, her family has joined two lawsuits against the State of Nevada and the company that built its flawed online software, Xerox.

Led by Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state launched the Silver State Exchange in October to carry out President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act in Nevada. But since October, the exchange has been plagued with software problems and the state fired Xerox in May.

Rolain faced a life-threatening illness and couldn’t afford insurance in the private market. That made her a prime candidate for the Affordable Care Act. In the fall, doctors told Linda Rolain she had a brain tumor, a diagnosis she paid for with a credit card.

Rolain and her husband tried enrolling in the Silver State Exchange when it started in October. They immediately ran into problems. They were kicked off the website and spent hours on the phone trying to speak with customer service representatives.

They enrolled in January, three months later than planned. They sent a $138 money order to the exchange for a plan that was set to start March 1. But the insurance company didn’t send her a insurance card until May.

She underwent brain surgery in mid-May and suffered through a difficult recovery.

For nearly three weeks, Rolain has been laying in a hospital bed in her living room. Her husband, sister and sister-in-law have cared for her through her final days.

The work to enroll in the Silver State Exchange has been draining, said Robert Rolain. He said he lost 60 pounds through the stress and described working with the Silver State Exchange as “pure hell.” He thinks if his wife was enrolled sooner, she might still be alive.

“I want the people of Nevada to know that they might have got rid of the cancer with a little chemo and radiation,” Robert Rolain said in an interview last week.

Silver State Exchange officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nevada has received $91 million in federal money to run the exchange, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and paid Xerox $12.3 million to build its website, Nevada Health Link.

State leaders expected to enroll 118,000 people in its exchange. As of June 1, they had reached 30 percent of their goal, 36,000, largely because of software problems.

It’s not clear how many of those 36,000 Nevadans paid for health insurance they never received.

State officials say they don’t know the number. Xerox officials say they were “not at liberty” to disclose the number.

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