Massachusetts pulls the plug on faulty Obamacare website

The state of Massachusetts has thrown in the towel in their effort to make their Obamacare website work properly. They now plan to scrap the whole thing and use the federal exchange to sign people up.

The Hill:

"I’ve said all along that no option on the table would be perfect, and the dual track certainly has its benefits and its challenges," said Sarah Iselin, special assistant to Gov. Deval Patrick (D), in a statement Monday.

"It does, however, solve for two realities: we need a reliable website to help people during the next open enrollment period, and we need to be in a position to achieve a fully integrated system in 2015."

Iselin and an official with UnitedHealth's Optum technology unit will present their plan to the Connector's board of directors on Thursday. Optum was hired to help strengthen the Massachusetts exchange.

The system's problems are particularly notable since the 2006 Massachusetts healthcare overhaul inspired the Affordable Care Act and its marketplaces.

While the state's initial exchange was successful, the transition to complying with federal rules proved troublesome last year.

Thousands of consumers were frustrated by the new enrollment website, leading Massachusetts to recommend the use of paper applications and enroll people in temporary health plans through Medicaid.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement that "Americans are once again out millions of dollars with nothing to show for it" in the wake of Massachusetts' closure, and state officials should have to answer for their failure.

"Federal taxpayers should not be on the hook for the additional costs to clean up this debacle, which are sure to be high as the state scrambles to join the federal exchange," Issa said.

Prior to Monday's announcement, Massachusetts officials had considered rebuilding instead of replacing the website. They are now planning to use hCentive, a software product used to build insurance exchanges in Colorado and Kentucky.

That makes two state exchanges so far that have totally failed with at least three others on the block. And with the federal exchange still under construction - probably until the fall - it's an open question whether these states will be able to make the transition successfully.

Cover Oregon has already been tossed. Exchanges in Hawaii, Minnesota, and possibly Washington, D.C. are being eyed for shutdown by the feds as well. Maryland's exchange is still not working well. The six sites mentioned cost the taxpayer well over a billion dollars - chump change if you're a bureaucrat, but a meaningful sum for anyone else.

No one can be put in jail for incompetence or stupidity. Perhaps it's time to change that.


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