15 states have spent more than a billion dollars on ObamaCare exchanges

posted at 9:21 am on October 31, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Another line of defense for ObamaCare apologists blames Republican governors for refusing to open their own state exchanges.  If only every state would have created their own exchange, the argument goes, the federal website would have worked properly and consumers would already be enrolling as they are in the 15 states that have their own exchanges! CBS News investigated the state-based exchanges and discovered that they’re costing the federal government more than a billion dollars, while having many of the same problems:

Sources tell CBS News that the 15 states that have set up their own insurance exchanges used more than $1 billion to pay for their own Obamacare websites. That huge price tag, CBS News’ Jan Crawford reported on “CBS This Morning,” is being paid for by the federal government — courtesy of taxpayers — and some of these websites have also struggled to get off the ground. …

A CBS News analysis shows that the 15 states that opted to set up their own exchanges are spending more than $1.1 billion to launch and implement their own websites, often paying the same government contractors to do the same job in different states.

California has dedicated $359 million, while New York is spending $161 million. In Kentucky it’s $100 million, and in Oregon the price tag is $50 million.

The president has pointed to Oregon, which has enrolled 56,000 people in Medicaid – to argue things are working. “That’s 56,000 more Americans who now have health care,” the president has said. “That doesn’t depend on a website.”

And it’s a good thing, because Oregon’s website doesn’t work. The new Medicaid enrollments came through the mail. The state website has yet to enroll a single person.

At least five of the states have problems because they used the same contractor for their exchange as HHS did — CGI Federal.  Clay Johnson, one of Barack Obama’s “Presidential Innovation Fellows,” wonders aloud in his CBS interview whether CGI Federal “got paid five times for some of the same code” — code that has now been demonstrated as substandard.  Thanks to the states creating their own exchanges rather than going with a central exchange, that also means that the same code will have to get fixed in six different systems.  Will CGI Federal get more taxpayer dollars to do that, too?

Update: And even when the exchanges work, they’re not succeeding for other reasons (via TWS):

“Thus far everybody has taken a look at the rates and they’ve walked out the door. There’s sticker shock. They just can’t afford it.”


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