Massachusetts Scraps Romneycare Exchange
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney refused to apologize for Romneycare, which he instituted when he was governor of Massachusetts. President Barack Obama modeled Obamacare off of it. Now the Bay State is going to completely scrap its state health care exchange.
Massachusetts, which built its exchange in 2006 under Romney, will be the second state to abandon its exchange, following Oregon. Politico notes that it is unclear whether Massachusetts or the federal government will have to pick up the tab. Massachusetts has already reportedly "spent $57 million on a system that never was able to enroll people with subsidies start to finish, and its failure has forced the state to enroll more than 160,000 residents in temporary Medicaid coverage – at an estimated $10 million-a-month cost."
The federal government gave Massachusetts nearly $180 million in taxpayer funds to revamp its exchange to calculate all of the subsidies that Obamacare requires. Obamacare critics have said that Obamacare's one-size-fits-all approach was responsible for destroying Massachusetts's state exchange. However, before the Obama administration contracted with CGI to build the HealthCare.gov site that was often inoperable, Massachusetts had contracted with the same company. Like the Obama administration, Massachusetts dropped CGI earlier this year, according to Politico.
Massachusetts has hired a new contractor to merge its "dysfunctional" exchange "with the federal enrollment site HealthCare.gov." The state wants the merger to happen by Nov. 15, which is when the next enrollment session begins, but "officials aren’t sure it’s possible to make that happen in less than six months."
Sarah Iselin, special assistant to Governor Deval Patrick (D), said in a statement that though "no option on the table would be perfect, and the dual track certainly has its benefits and its challenges," the merger solves two problems: "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.”
Massachusetts has reportedly placed "thousands of state residents on temporary Medicaid" while "tens of thousands more who’d expected to transition to the new exchange have been forced to remain on Commonwealth Care," which was supposed to phase out in January but will now be "extended throughout at least June."