August 4, 2014

ObamaCare: GAO Report Pegs Website Cost Overruns

Healthcare.gov accounted for $840M in cost overruns, and it’s still not working correctly.

Color us surprised: The launch of the Healthcare.gov website accounted for $840 million in cost overruns, and it’s still not working correctly. In fact, the poorly-designed initial version had $150 million in additional costs before its launch last October, said the Government Accounting Office.

From the start, when those overseeing this disaster frequently changed their orders and led contractors down a number of dead-end paths on the way to an opening plagued with system crashes and customer frustration, the ineptitude was shocking. Sadly, though, it’s something we’ve come to expect. As the GAO put it, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which was placed in charge of these federal exchange websites, “launched HealthCare.gov without verification that it met performance requirements.” If Detroit put out a car without fully testing it, the government would order it taken off the market, but the ObamaCare site went up as scheduled.

Moreover, with the next open enrollment period in mid-November, the CMS site still has no provision to accept payment for the insurance companies providing the services. CMS Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt testified that CMS doesn’t expect work on that part of the website to be completed until next year, after the next open enrollment period is complete. While puffing up enrollment numbers, those running the website weren’t as concerned about securing payment for the participating private insurers.

And without a back-end of the site, insurers are blind to ObamaCare’s effects. Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, admitted on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that there’s been attrition from the ranks of his insured over the last several months but doesn’t know exactly who’s leaving because that back-end isn’t built yet.

Furthermore, if the court ruling stands that those who enroll in ObamaCare via the federal exchange – which is the default method for the 36 states without state exchanges – do not qualify for federal subsidies, that shedding will likely become a stampede as their cost for insurance skyrockets. It’s yet another reminder that passing something before we know what’s in it generally produces bad results for our economy and our liberty.

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