Obamacare rollout is reason for worry

Two weeks after health exchanges went online for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, the federal computer system that allows people to shop for and purchase health insurance…




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With the current “shutdown” and “debt limit” crises apparently (but only temporarily) winding down, the Sentinel deserves kudos for its timely, objective, and appropriate editorial (“Obamacare rollout is reason for worry”) – which properly redirects popular focus onto what seems to be the “excrutiatingly embarrassing” rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) long-awaited on-line health insurance exchanges.

As a former executive charged with overseeing the development and implementation of complex computer software for an international business – and as an ardent supporter of the public policy underlying “ObamaCare” – I am both mystified and chagrined by the mounting evidence of abject incompetence (or, possibly, deliberate sabotage). 

Unfortunately, this inexcusable experience is not unique.  Coloradans should remember the long-running problems with the “Colorado Benefits Management System”, and may recall similar defects in Census 2010’s information technology systems—which required reversion to paper-based “enumeration”.  A common denominator is failure to finalize specifications soon enough to permit coherent software design and rigorous code testing.

The ACA also fell victim to the Obama Administration’s reluctance to employ the same whiz-kids who contributed to his re-election success – fearing charges of cronyism, and its decision to divvy-up the work between “lowest bid” contractors and in-house staff.

However, the fact that state-run exchanges are doing better than federal exchanges lends credence to the conservative philosophy underlying ObamaCare – which sought to apply principles of “federalism” to makes states responsible for their own citizens’ health insurance options.

Undoubtedly, the fact that 26 states refused to cooperate with the ACA—and Secretary Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services unexpectedly became responsible for 36 state exchanges – was also a contributing factor.  Nevertheless, Massachusetts’s systems have operated well for years, and should have afforded a replicable template.

Therefore, it’s time for Congressional oversight committees to investigate problems with ACA’s federally-designed insurance exchanges.

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