Feds to take over failed Cover Oregon exchange
The federal government has determined that the Obamacare insurance exchange in Oregon - Cover Oregon - is so dysfunctional that it is beyond salvage. After spending more than $350 million in federal dollars, not a single Oregonian has been able to sign up via the website. The feds will take over the exchange in the near future.
In addition, 4 other malfunctioning exchanges in Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota may also be folded into the federal marketplace.
In public, the board overseeing Cover Oregon is scheduled to vote Friday whether to join the federal insurance marketplace that sells health plans in most of the country under the Affordable Care Act. Behind the scenes, the officials say, federal and Oregon officials already have agreed that closing down the state marketplace is the best path to rescue what has been the country’s only one to fail so spectacularly that no resident has been able to sign up for coverage online since it opened early last fall.
The collapse of Oregon’s insurance marketplace comes as federal health officials are focusing intensely on faltering exchanges in two other states, Maryland and Massachusetts.
This month, the board of the Maryland Health Connection became the first in the nation to decide to replace most of its exchange with different technology. But Maryland did not obtain required federal approval before its vote. Federal officials remain uncertain whether the state exchange has the capacity to correct its problems and have not indicated whether they will give Maryland the $40 million to $50 million it says it needs to make the switch.
Massachusetts was in the vanguard of insurance exchanges, opening its own years before the 2010 federal health-care law. But the commonwealth’s insurance marketplace developed severe technical problems as it tried to make adjustments to interact with the federal system.
Taken together, the federal uneasiness about these and other failing state insurance exchanges is emerging now that the federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, is largely functional, attracting unexpectedly large numbers of people in the final weeks of the first sign-up period, which just ended. So far, about 8 million Americans have enrolled through the federal and state marketplaces.
The fate of these state-run exchanges has significance both politically and for consumers.
Those exchanges represent a monumental waste of a significant amount of taxpayer funds. The price tag approaches a billion dollars. Cronyism,. negligence, incompetence - federal prosecutors should be able to find several state bureaucrats to indict.
But this is Eric Holder's Justice Department and it isn't likely that his prosecutors would conclude that anything criminal should be attached to setting fire to a billion dollars. Maybe there's some way we could add a racial element to the theft - that might get Holder interested in a hurry.
The sad truth is it is not a crime to be an idiot responsible for throwing taxpayer money away. Maybe if they threw a few people in jail, the appropriate lesson would be learned and greater care would be taken in spending tax dollars.
Or, elephants could learn to fly. Take your pick.