“Obamacare,” Forbes’ Chris Conover observed, “appears to be in a fierce race to beat Cash for Clunkers to become the poster child for mismanagement of federal taxpayer resources.”
The occasion for Conover’s remark is the news that as many as seven state ObamaCare exchange websites either have been or are likely to be shut down in favor of the federal website, Healthcare.gov — a waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Politico reported that just four of these states — Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, and Maryland — have collectively spent $474 million in federal grants with little or nothing to show for it, and some are seeking additional federal funds for one last-ditch attempt at salvaging their websites.
Massachusetts, which enacted the prototype for ObamaCare, has already spent most of its initial $170 million federal grant trying to build a functioning website, and “state officials have warned that most of what is left of their initial federal award may be needed to end their contract with CGI, the vendor that built the” website, according to Politico. The Bay State now wants another $121 million from Washington to build a new website while using Healthcare.gov as a backup. If approved, this would bring the total cost to almost double that of simply scrapping the state website and switching to the federal exchange.
Oregon’s website — “the country’s only one to fail so spectacularly that no resident has been able to sign up for coverage online since it opened early last fall,” in the words of the Washington Post — has already been read its last rites. As The New American reported recently, the Beaver State had already disbursed about $250 million of the $304 million it received in federal grants and would have had to shell out another $80 million even to have a prayer of getting its website working. Since trading in its failed website for the more-or-less functioning Healthcare.gov would cost only about $5 million, the state opted for that approach.
Nevada has thus far poured $51 million of its approximately $90 million in federal grants into creating its website. “An outside report concluded that salvaging the major flaws in the exchange would be a huge feat,” said Politico. Xerox, the vendor that constructed the website, disagrees, but the momentum at present seems to be in the direction of using the federal exchange.
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