House opens investigations into 3 dysfunctional state Obamacare websites
The main site, healthcare.gov, still isn't complete, but Congress is taking aim at 3 hugely dysfunctional state exchange sites that have cost the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollar so far.
Oregon, Maryland, and Massachusetts are all having monumental problems with their state Obamacare websites and Republicans want to know the answer to one simple question: where did all that taxpayer money go?
In Oregon, not even one person has yet to enroll online, leaving the state completely reliant on paper applications.
Walden and the other lawmakers are laying the groundwork to claw-back some of the state's $304 million in grants if Oregon decides to abandon its state-run exchange and join the federal system.
"With the March 31 deadline for open enrollment fast approaching, the state of Oregon will need to make a decision on the fate of Cover Oregon soon," the letter to the GAO reads. "The catastrophic breakdown of Cover Oregon is unacceptable, and taxpayers deserve accountability."
Despite the site problems, Oregon is more than halfway to its Congressional Budget Office estimate of having 64,000 enrollees by the end of March, according to an Avalere Health analysis.
Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.) told The Hill in an email that covering Oregonians would remain his focus.
"Congress will do what Congress will do just so long as it does not slow down the process of getting Oregonians healthcare," he said. "Already more than 225,000 Oregonians have enrolled in quality, affordable coverage, including more than 35,000 in private insurance plans."
The governor's office noted that it's only the consumer portal that isn't functioning properly, and said the state is "using large parts of the technology we purchased to calculate what people are eligible for, help them get access to financial assistance, and service their accounts."
The website problems run deeper in Maryland, where state officials have been debating for months whether to abandon its faltering state-run exchange in favor of HealthCare.gov.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who is mulling a run for the White House in 2016, will have to answer to Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who on Wednesday sent a letter to Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson asking for an investigation into Maryland's exchange.
"By the end of the year, over $100 million federal dollars will have been spent on a project that should have cost much less, and doesn't work," they wrote. "As a result of the fact that Maryland appears willing to continue to waste tens of millions of more federal dollars, we ask that the investigation start immediately."
Maryland's former IT officer in charge of getting the website going took a Caribbean vacation at Thanksgiving - right at the height of a supreme effort by the state to fix the website's problems. She was forced to resign shortly afterward.
And how is it that the template for Obamacare - Romneycare in Massachusetts - is having horrible problems with its website? Apparently, the changes required under Obamacare were poorly adopted and another hundred million dollars or so of taxpayer money went down the drain.
There may be criminal charges filed against Cover Oregon officials, who may have lied to Congress about the progress of website development. If so, they won't be the last bureacrats to pay for this gargantuan waste of taxpayer dollars with their freedom.