Barack Obama might have snatched the presidency from Mitt Romney’s grasp, but his national health care plan has been an absolute disaster compared to Massachusetts’s Romneycare.
Obama allegedly stole his idea from Romney’s somewhat successful (we can save that debate for later) implementation of state-wide health insurance reform. Thus theoretically, the shift from Romneycare to Obamacare should have gone smoothly. However, website malfunctions produced “unforeseen” difficulties that in turn have embarrassed Massachusetts officials:
At the end of last year, according to a New York Times analysis, the state was last in the nation in meeting enrollment goals, signing up only 5,428 applicants in private plans. By Thursday night, 8,444 people were enrolled in private plans under the exchange. 111,000 applicants had their previous state coverage extended, while 30,000 were given temporary state coverage.
The disastrous implementation meant that temporary “workarounds” had to sloppily bandage up the health care wounds Obamacare caused. Temporary insurance and insurance extensions have been employed in order to prevent those who lost their original plans from going without coverage altogether.
The website, run by the same CGI Federal that Obama finally scrapped, has taken most of the blame for the slipshod rollout. In an attempt to fix the issues, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Sarah Iselin of Blue Cross Blue Shield and hired workers from technology firm Optum. So far, Iselin has managed little more than negotiations:
The state was seeking a six-month extension from the federal government to keep subscribers enrolled in current coverage plans beyond the March 31 deadline to give ample time to repair the faulty site.
Nonetheless, apologies and extensions have done little to soothe frustrated lawmakers and individuals:
“We spent a lot of money. Some of it may be federal, but it’s all taxpayer money however it’s collected. We spent a lot of money for something that doesn’t work,” said Sen. Richard Moore. “It’s a wonder we don’t have as series of mental health crises because of people’s frustration.”
Without a functioning site, officials have taken to doing things old-school and over 50,000 paper applications are waiting to be processed. With the usual efficiency of bureaucracy, each application only takes two hours to complete.
Superficial fixes will not be enough to keep Bay Staters happy as they find themselves uninsured. Perhaps Massachusetts assumed Obama meant it when he said you could keep your plan, but his lies have produced mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy which are crippling the state. In addition, thousands of people still have no information about what will happen to their health insurance in the future.
Of course, officials claim a solution is forthcoming—perhaps hidden somewhere in that 2,000-page bill.