Boston Globe: 'Mass. may give up on still-failing health site'
Following the passage of RomneyCare in 2006, the state of Massachusetts set up a prototype of the Obama health care exchanges called the Massachusetts Health Connector. It was a simple website that listed plans offered by various health insurers and it seemed to work fairly well. Although I did not support RomneyCare, I hoped that by getting ahead of the healthcare.gov train wreck, Massachusetts residents would be unaffected by the destructive Obamacare rollout.
It turns out I was very wrong. The Boston Globe reports this week:
The [Health Connector] website, created under Massachusetts’ 2006 landmark health insurance law, worked well for several years. But it was overhauled last year to meet the more complicated demands of the Affordable Care Act — by CGI, the same company that designed the federal health insurance website, which also had a disastrous rollout this fall.
While the performance of the federal site has improved markedly, the Massachusetts site continues to have serious problems.
The website has been locking users out of accounts and providing confusing error messages. And parts of the system designed to automatically determine applicants’ eligibility for tax credits and to deliver key information to insurers simply have not worked. The flaws prompted the state to stop paying CGI on its $68 million contract — of which $15 million has been paid — and to bring in Optum, a separate health care technology firm, to fix the problems.
Because of the problems, thousands of people have been unable to buy subsidized insurance through the Connector. The state has given them temporary coverage through the state Medicaid program. Others were allowed to keep expiring plans.
[Sarah Iselin, special assistant to Governor Deval Patrick] said that she was encouraged by the progress being made in developing more efficient workarounds to the website and that those should enable the state to soon chip away at a current backlog of 54,000 paper applications that need to be entered into computers and processed. The state has urged residents to submit paper applications instead of using the website.
Boston is one of the world’s great technology hubs, and the office of possible Presidential candidate Governor Patrick praises paper applications as “more efficient workarounds.” How swell.
It’s nice that the Globe believes that “the performance of the federal site has improved markedly.” When you go to healthcare.gov, however, this is the very first screen of the application process:
I’m not sure why the message about my small business appears on the bottom when I checked “I'm looking for coverage for myself or my family.” Glitch #89,343?
More importantly, the only way to proceed on the federal site is to click on “Visit Your State Marketplace”; the only task that healthcare.gov performs is to provide a link to the “still-failing” state exchange. Thanks for nothing.