Obamacare critics warned that President Barack Obama’s rosy $2 billion cost estimate for the government’s so-called “insurance exchanges” would likely rise. On Wednesday, they more than doubled.
Health and Human Services Department (HHS) budget documents state that the federal government now expects to spend $4.4 billion this year on state grants to erect the government exchanges for the less than half of the U.S. states who are participating. In 2014, HHS says the cost will jump to $5.7 billion.
In addition to the cost spike, the number of uninsured Americans who will now be covered under Obamacare has fallen once again:
The result is that the number of Americans projected to gain insurance from the law has already eroded, by at least 5 million people, to 27 million by 2017, the CBO said in February. In addition, as many as 8 million people will lose health-care plans now offered through their employers, almost three times more than the CBO initially projected.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blames resistance from states for the cost increases and lowered coverage projections.
“There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July, and then once an election occurred there would be a sense that, ‘This is the law of the land, let’s get on board, let’s make this work.’ And yet we will find ourselves having state-by-state political battles,” said Sebelius.
Thirty-four states have opted not to build the government insurance exchanges themselves, choosing instead to make the federal government design and install the computer systems that will power the Obamacare exchanges.
With Obamacare’s official grand opening slated for January 1, 2014, government bureaucrats are racing to cobble the system together in time for its unveiling. To meet the deadline, Obama has delayed the so-called Basic Health Program for the poor until 2015, as well as a rule banning companies from allowing senior executives to have nicer health insurance plans than subordinates.
“The Administration has had 3 years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so,” writes progressive TIME columnist Joe Klein. “This is a really bad sign….One thing is clear: Obamacare will fail if he doesn’t start paying more attention to the details of implementation, if he doesn’t start demanding action. And, in a larger sense, the notion of activist government will be in peril.”