After former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signed the state's 2006 health care overhaul into law, he said on multiple occasions that the state's system, which included an insurance mandate, preexisting conditions rules, an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and a government-run insurance exchange, was intended as a model for the nation.
A few years later, in 2010, President Barack Obama would sign a nation law into place that included all of those elements and that, according to the administration, had been modeled at least in part on the Massachusetts system.
Four years after that, when Obama's exchanges went online, Massachusetts was one of the states that had the hardest time making the transition—this despite more than $135 million worth of federal grants intended to help the state build and manage a new, Obamacare-compliant exchange.
Like Maryland and Oregon, the state was a recipient of an "early innovator" grant intended for states that were especially enthusiastic about implementing the health law and wanted to produce exchange technology that other states could emulate. And like Maryland and Oregon, Massachusetts ended up with an exchange that, for all practical purposes, simply didn't work. By the middle of March, the state had a massive backlog of unprocessed insurance applications—a backlog it only cleared by extending "transitional" insurance to the applicants, which is a gentle way of saying it stuck most of those folks in Medicaid until its exchange troubles were sorted out.
That could be a while. The state is hoping—fingers crossed!—to have a "functional" health exchange by this fall, when the next open enrollment period begins. But "functional" doesn't mean complete. "We are not going to have everything we want for the fall," Sarah Iselin, who is overseeing the repair work, told Boston.com earlier this month.
Indeed, it appears that some of the features won't be ready until 2017. The Obama adminstration announced yesterday that it would give the state an additional year to comply with some of the particulars of Obamacare's insurance regulations. Via MassLive.com.
Massachusetts has been given an additional year to transition to a new system under the Affordable Care Act that would change the way insurance carriers calculate premiums for Massachusetts businesses and potentially drive up the cost for many employers.
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius granted the additional year to complete the transition to new premium rating factors on Thursday after previous requests from the governor for a complete waiver were not granted.
This follows yesterday's news that the administration would likely take over Oregon's failed exchange.