NYT Editorial Board: GOP Investigations of Obamacare's Failed Exchanges Are a Form of "Harassment"



Like half the states that attempted to build their own exchanges under Obamacare, Maryland botched the job. And now it's the latest state to come under investigation for blowing some $135 million in federal grants on an exchange that, to this day, still does not work. The Baltimore Sun reports:

A federal inspector general is launching a review into what went wrong with Maryland's health insurance exchange, the first examination focused specifically on how millions of dollars in federal money was spent by the state, according to the lawmaker who requested the probe.

Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and vocal opponent of President Barack Obama's health care law, said officials with the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had contacted him and indicated they will look into the creation of the state's glitch-prone exchange.

The probe, which Harris said would likely begin in a matter of weeks, is the first of its kind to be revealed publicly.

The Government Accountability Office is already looking into how Oregon managed to spend more than $300 million in federal exchange funding on an online enrollment system that is, for all practical purposes, completely broken; the GAO operation may expand into other states as well.

There have been calls for investigations at the state-level as well. A state auditor said at the beginning of the year that there would be an investigation of Minnesota's exchanges, which also had a slew of technical problems. The state Republican party in Vermont is also pushing for an investigation of its exchange.

That so many of the enthusiastically embraced the health law experienced so many troubles with their exchanges might suggest that there serious systemic management and administration issues within the blue states that tried and failed to build the online marketplaces—and that it's probably worth investigating what went wrong.

But if you ask The New York Times editorial board, it's Republicans pushing for investigations who are really at fault. GOP leaders, the paper's editorial page complains, "are doing little to solve the difficulties and are instead threatening to recover money not yet spent on enrolling people, and harassing state officials with requests for information about the salaries and vacation time of directors of the state exchanges."

So requests for information about the actions of senior officials in charge of implementing large programs and attempts to stop payment on failed government projects now constitute a form of "harassment?" Alternatively, one might refer to this as "oversight," or even just basic administrative competence and responsibility. But for at least some of the health law's supporters, it appears increasingly difficult to favor those things and Obamacare at the same time.