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Yeah. What He Said.

28 Apr

Remember when everyone was talking about how awful healthcare.gov is?  Well, guess what?  At least 4 states are recommending that their citizens use the federal site because theirs are so bad.  That’s a nice about-face huh?  Here’s what the governor of one of those states, Oregon, says:

“I think their recommendation to use the federal website technology is the right call,” he said. “It is the most reliable and least costly way to ensure that we have a working website for the next enrollment period.”

Wait, what?  Healthcare.gov is the “most reliable”?  I love it.  I really do.  That is damning with faint praise if I ever heard it.  So, fine.  Those state’s residents can just go over to the federal site.  No harm, no foul.  Here’s the catch.  The government, the federal one, gave a whole bunch of money to those states to start their own exchanges.  Do we get our money back?

Now, whatever we may think about past and future hospital CEOs, sometimes they get it right.  Dear leader Brad Wright might think this is cheating, but I’m going to re-post a blog entry by a CEO who’s probably doing more for health policy now than he was when he was a CEO.  Here it is: (http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2014/04/i-want-my-money-back.html)

“Like many people, I have been following the saga of the failed state health care exchanges, Massachusetts being one.  But a sentence in today’s New York Times Article about the Oregon exchange took my breath away:

Oregon has received $305 million in federal grants to build its exchange, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

The Census Bureau reports the number of households in Oregon as 1.5 million. So we (yes, we) have spent about $300 per family to produce nothing.

As we look at that CRS report we see that Massachusetts got $170 million for the same purpose and couldn’t get its act together.  Hawaii, $205 million.  Maryland, $171 million.  And, in addition, according to the Pioneer Institute report“Failure at the Connector will cost Massachusetts taxpayers over $100 million dollars this year” because 160,000 Massachusetts residents are on temporary public Medicaid coverage even though they don’t qualify for MassHealth.

On Oregon, the Times reports:

[I]n February, the federal government delivered a devastating critique of the Oregon exchange, saying it had “no integrated project schedule” and no “overarching dedicated project manager” to keep work on track. Moreover, it said, the state did far too little to supervise its main information technology contractor, Oracle. 

I strongly support the goals and purposes of the Accountable Care Act, but this level of managerial incompetence is breathtaking.  Shouldn’t we as federal taxpayers ask for the failed states to return the US grants they received?  Perhaps, then, the states will have an incentive to recover the spent funds from the contractors they hired.”

Well said, Paul Levy.

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