Massachusetts to Scrap Its Broken, $179 Million Health Exchange



Federal taxpayers chipped in $179 million so that Massachusetts could replace its functioning health insurance exchange with one that doesn't work. And now the state says it's just going to scrap everything it's done so far and start over. 

The state's exchange has been one of the most troubled in the nation. In March, the state fired its tech vendor, CGI (the same company that built the federal exchange system). The contractor responded with a statement noting its own "tireless" work on the project and saying that it planned to work with the state "to ensure a smooth transition to the next phase of exchange deployment, allowing for the best use of system capabilities already in place."

Bay State officials now seem to think that the best use of the troubled Obamacare exchange is to leave it behind. The state now plans to toss the old system completely and buy a working, off-the-rack system that can then be customized to fit the state. And if that doesn't work, they'll just join the federal exchange.

Via The Boston Globe:

Instead, officials will buy an off-the-shelf product used by several other states to enroll residents in health plans, while simultaneously preparing to join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace if that product fails.

The state's insurance system needs to be ready by Nov. 15 for consumers to enroll in new health plans for 2015. If adoption of the new software, called hCentive, takes longer than expected, the state can connect to the federal marketplace for up to one year.

Massachusetts received a total of $179 million in federal grants to build its health insurance exchange, including a shared "early innovator" grant for states attempting to produce model exchanges. Obviously that didn't work out so well.

What makes this story extra infuriating, and more than a little ironic, is that Massachusetts was frequently cited as a model for Obamacare because it already had a functioning health exchange, put in place in 2006 as part of a state-based health policy overhaul under then-Gov. Mitt Romney. 

That exchange wasn't the world's greatest idea. But it worked, in the most basic sense. You could use it to obtain insurance. Thousands of people did. However, it didn't do all of the real-time cost and subsidy calculations that Obamacare exchanges were required to do. So when Obamacare arrived, state officials got rid of it and built an expensive new system—a new system that, as we now know, didn't work at all, and cost taxpayers $179 million.

Will any of this money be returned? What are the chances that the new off-the-shelf system doesn't work, and Massachusetts ends up on the federal exchange, which was built by the same firm whose work the Bay State scrapped, and which remains a delay-plagued work-in-progress itself? 

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  1. There’s just a few kinks to work out, you know, sort of like Apple has when they create a new product. Fire up those printing presses, we’re going to get this right!

  2. This is the new government way of spending. Don’t even try and get some value out of the wasted money; just walk away and start over and spend more money. Don’t even try and explain to taxpayers where it went. Because fuck them, that’s why.


    2. There has been too much incompetence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away.

  3. $179 million? Pshaw, mere loose pocket change. Why, that’s like only one day’s worth of Medicare fraud!

  4. Massachusetts to Scrap Its Broken, $179 Million Health Exchange

    Who cares? It’s just money! Healthcare is a right! You can’t put a price to health!

    (Actually, you can but don’t tell proggies that.)

  5. I thought this was the one state that they modeled the ACA after because it neutered any Romney criticism of a Federal program was working so well?

    What happened?

    1. Bush?

  6. Again, the biggest obstacle on these sites is the “requirement” for real-time subsidy and medicaid eligibility information. As far as I can tell this was not required by law, but put in at the 11th hour by the Obama administration to help hide the true cost of health care insurance on the exchanges.

    But, better that people fail to sign up than to have bad PR.

    1. When your price for the policy varies depending on all kinds of other data in other databases, I don’t see how you can have an exchange that doesn’t have those back-end interfaces. Otherwise, your exchange is saying “Hey, here’s a policy! No idea what it will cost you, though.”

      1. From what I heard it wasn’t the total policy cost that was a headache, it was how much of that cost is covered by a subsidy.

        Policy cost is calculated by data contained in the system — plan info from insurers, individual info from the enrollee. Subsidy and medicaid eligibility required interfaces to other government systems, which is where a lot of complications arose.

        This is just third-hand from some people working on it at Accenture, so grain of salt.

        1. Accenture – the consulting wing of Enron Audit Firm Arthur Andersen.

          1. Enron Audit Firm Arthur Andersen.
            Which was shown in court–after it had been destroyed by the government’s accusations—to have done nothing wrong. Nothing.

        2. No, that’s been known to be a difficult aspect for a long time. I’ve been banging that drum for a year. A year ago I told my proggy Facebook friends that healthcare.gov would not be ready by the deadline for just that reason. They pooh-poohed me, but I was right. And the back-end is still not done, AFAIK.

  7. Dude, we just need even more government, and more bureaucracy to fix this, because the previous increase in their numbers just wasn’t enough. And…..and…..if only we had the right people in there would things be better…….you know???

    300 million in Oregon, 179 million in Mass. What the hell!! What if a plumber came and did work, but left everything leaking? Then left you with it and said try a new plumber….it’s like really wtf! How is this ok when govt does it???

    Government: we don’t give a fuck how many times it fails, we aren’t facing consequences, so fuck you we’ll keep doing it.

    Citizen: I peacefully revoke my consent to be governed. This blatant theft, and fraud which is telling from the complete lack of efficiency is enough already. I cannot stand by and watch you folks rob me anymore.

    Government: guess you didn’t get the FU the first time…..so BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!! Now we’re gonna sell your shit and waste that money too biatch!

  8. I’d rather be free and take my chances by freely engaging in transactions with others than be a slave to these jackbooted politicians.

    Shit, if you want to be a slave and be dominated, there’s plenty of folks that would do so for you. There will probably be a charge, but the best part is at the end of the day, you’ll be free again lol.

    Some dude: Oh no, fear free individuals and anarchy, and even some monopoly might form!!!

    Some other person: Why??? If monopolies are bad, then how is a government monopoly all the sudden ok? With free individuals in a market, you can either reward or punish various individuals in the market with your media of exchange. And if folks become abusive, or try to war with you at least you’ll have a fighting chance to repel the aggression, instead of being run over by the standing army and police with no chance in hell because they made guns illegal, and confiscated your shit. Wouldn’t you rather be free and have a fighting chance?

    Some dude: BLaH Blah is all I hear. because ROADZ!!!! DE FENCE!!!! AND SOMALIAAAAA!!!!! YOU RACIST BIGOTTED CHEESEDoddle HAter!!!

  9. Huh. So how much will Lord Hobama ask us to walk away from?

  10. I’m sure the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is writing a check as we speak to reimburse the feds.

  11. For a combined loss of nearly $500 million in Oregon and Mass alone, they could have simply:

    a) given every resident a free healthcare card for the next two years, or

    b) bought a dozen new hospitals or remodeled old ones.

    But instead, BigGov blows them on two websites — WHICH DON’T EVEN WORK! You can build a website on Godaddy for like 10 bucks! No website costs $500 million to build, not even Amazon!

    Where’s Tony and Buttplug to come in and tell me how Im wrong?

    1. It does work just as intended – a big payoff to cronies of the administration.

    2. It is a mistake to think that any of this is actually about delivering healthcare. The purpose is to ratchet up government control while funneling oceans of taxpayer money to cronies.

    3. Or how about let free individuals decide what the hell they would do with the money earned instead of those sheisser heads in dC extorting everyone and wasting it.

  12. So proud to live in the Fascist People’s Republic of Massachusetts! Thanks to the glowing success of Romneycare, Obuma was able to convince the sheeple that this scheme was the thing to solve all of the nation’s healthcare woes. Thanks Mitt!

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