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Four Obamacare exchanges in ruins - wasting nearly half a billion dollars in federal funds

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/12/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Four state now scrambling to repair systems

Four states, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and Maryland have seen their Obamacare exchanges drastically under-perform, racking up nearly half a BILLION dollars in federal debt. The cost of rehabilitating these exchanges may even go higher.

The federal government is now between the proverbial rock and hard place. They could rush wiring more exorbitant checks to try and keep these exchanges afloat - or adding still more states to HealthCare.gov, which will cost approximately the same.

The federal government is now between the proverbial rock and hard place. They could rush wiring more exorbitant checks to try and keep these exchanges afloat - or adding still more states to HealthCare.gov, which will cost approximately the same.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/12/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Obamacare, federal funds, salvage


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - All four of these exchanges have faced strong criticism. The four are now rushing to rebuild their systems or transition to the federal exchange.

The federal government is now between the proverbial rock and hard place. They could rush wiring more exorbitant checks to try and keep these exchanges afloat - or adding still more states to HealthCare.gov, which will cost approximately the same. The federal system is already serving 36 states, much more than was previously anticipated.

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A few of the contractors, which is shouldering the majority of the blame in this case, continue to insist that it's possible to set the system aright. Still others are braced for possible legal action; either that, or holding their collective breaths if now-sullied contracts will be terminated.

The $474 million spent by these four states includes the cost that officials have publicly detailed to date. If Minnesota and Hawaii, which have suffered similarly dysfunctional exchanges, are added, the costs will only climb higher.

These totals are just a fraction of the $4.698 billion that the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation calculates the federal government has approved for states since 2011 to help them determine whether to create their own exchanges. The amount of money that now appears lost is prompting calls for far greater accountability.

What is next for these four states? Nevada is still trying to figure out its future. Oregon has decided to switch to HealthCare.gov. Maryland wants to fix its own exchange, maybe by incorporating what worked in Connecticut. Massachusetts actually wants to do both. They want to start from the ground up while using the federal exchange as a backup. 

Massachusetts' dual-track approach could require more than $120 million on top of the $170 million it already has been awarded, nearly twice the cost if the state were to simply bail on its Connector. Officials seem to be banking in part on the Obama administration's greater interest in helping the Massachusetts exchange to continue.

"Instead of a quixotic sprint to rebuild the whole site in five months, state officials should instead pivot quickly to utilize the federal exchange, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in the process," Josh Archambault, a senior fellow with the right-leaning Foundation for Government Accountability says. He argues that the state's efforts to salvage its exchange is inherently just cosmetic.

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