Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Health Exchange Woes Cause Problems in Five  Democratic States

A fair exchange is no robbery.

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), Scottish  poet and author

Five Democratic governors, three of whom are up for re-election,  are having trouble convincing voters that their state’s  health exchanges are not robbing taxpayers of their hard-earned money.   Exchanges in their states cost more than $100 million each  to set up.  Their  exchanges are not performing, i.e, enrolling enough people to justify their  costs.   In some cases, this problem is not their fault but failure to connect to error-filed  or not yet built   “back-end” of the federal exchange.

The states, from west to east, are  - Hawaii,  Oregon,  Minnesota, Maryland,  and Massachusetts.   All voted for Obama in 2012,  all  have Democratic governors, all of whom supported ObamaCare,  all have Democratic state legislatures,  in four of the states, directors of their exchanges have resigned, and GOP lawmakers are pressing for investigations of exchanges in Oregon, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  Massachusetts is particularly troublesome.    Liberals consider Massachusetts the model for all things relating to health reform.

Abby Goodnough in the February 1, 2014,  New York Times reported that health exchanges glitches  gave the GOP a “cudgel” for clubbing  Democrats  (“Glitches in State Exchanges Give GOP a Cudgel).”  A cudgel is a short heavy club which has come to mean a club for beating an opponent in a dispute.    This will surely be the case in the November midterms when  ObamaCare and the botched healthcare.gov  rollout are central issues in the election.
And potent issues ObamaCare and healthcare.gov   may be.    Polls in Minnesota now indicate Obama approval  has fallen to below 50% to 43% for the first time in a state in which Obama  won 57% of the popular vote in 2012,“In First, Minnesota Polls Finds Obama Unpopular” ( The Hill, February 16, 2014).  

This unpopularity may be temporary.  Democrats plan to “neutralize” Obamacare by saying they will “fix “ damage inflicted by implacable GOP opposition.

But will that message by good enough?   

Will the message be more powerful than the incompetence issue raised by Republicans?

Which brings me back to Times reporter, Abby Goodnough. 

She reports:

With the federal online insurance exchange running more smoothly than ever, the biggest laggards in fixing enrollment problems are now state-run exchanges in several states where the governors and legislative leaders have been among the strongest supporters of President Obama’s health care law.”

“Republicans have seized on the failures of homegrown exchanges in states like Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon — all plagued by technological problems that have kept customers unhappy and enrollment goals unmet — and promise to use the issue against Democratic candidates for governor and legislative seats this fall.”

When Republicans look at state exchange woes, they see incompetence caused by an overly aggressive partisan power grab.  When Democrats look at it, they see a temporary aberration stemming from  ambitious noble intentions.  Fair enough. There is time enough  for voters to decide.

Tweet:   State health exchange shortfalls  in Democrat states of Hawaii, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland and Massachusetts may foretell outcomes in November 2014 midterm elections.

1 comment:

Moin@Skin said...

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Good luck.