Massachusetts Health Connector – the state’s failed Obamacare exchange – is faced with yet another challenge, this time a legal one. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is demanding the state exchange open its books in order to find out how the State government wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed revamp of their healthcare exchange. Although Massachusetts was the home of the Obamacare blueprint “RomneyCare”, the federal regulations imposed on the state broke an already working system and displaced thousands of Medicaid recipients.
Massachusetts was one of about 15 states that received $4.5 billion in funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to fund the construction of its own healthcare marketplace. The transformation was cheered on by then Democratic Governor Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), and close to $224 million was spent to upgrade the system.
But things did not go to plan. The exchange failed to work on day one.
While residents of the state were unable to get healthcare, the response from state officials was nonchalant. 41 days after the failed launch of the website Governor Patrick was asked about possible concerns with the exchange. His response was “No, none at all.” To this day, he continues to downplay the disastrous rollout by stating that people should be realistic and that “change is messy”.
Not only did this debacle prevent individuals in the state from signing up for Obamacare, the failed exchange displaced 325,000 residents who were then placed on a ‘transitional’ Medicaid program regardless of eligibility requirements. In all, the disaster resulted in $1 billion in further costs. Underlying the chaos in the exchange, it was later discovered that 6,000 residents were simultaneously receiving both Medicaid and state exchange benefits.
The skyrocketing costs and repeated malfunctions aside, the most disturbing aspect of the Massachusetts fiasco is the intentional concealment of the failures by the Commonwealth Connector Authority (CCA), the organization tasked with oversight of the transition.
Before the initial launch of the state exchange, testing proved a 90% failure rate. Despite this, the untested website was launched with the expectation that “Users Do Testing” where users through their experience with the exchange would “recognize how bad [it] was.” One whistleblower described the whole launch as like a kid who does something wrong and is waiting to be caught. Even worse, those who attempted to raise concerns were silenced on purpose. As one of the whistle blowers points out: “We were always told to be quiet, it doesn’t matter, don’t say anything”.
It is clear that Massachusetts officials repeatedly and deliberately concealed failures of the website construction and its ability to function properly. They tried to hide the shortcomings by coercing state workers to “approve poor quality work and covered up the project’s abysmal progress in a presentation to federal officials”.
The U.S. Attorney’s office has issued a subpoena to uncover the Obamacare incompetence which is plaguing this state. Taxpayers have a right to know how a supposedly simple transition from Romneycare to Obamacare managed to spend a quarter of a billion dollars and resulted in $1 billion worth of costs for Massachusetts residents.