Categorized | Senate News Briefing

State Obamacare Exchanges Continue To Struggle: KY Voters Reject Dem Supporter, OR “Technology Troubles Run Deep”, MD Site “Crashing All Over The Place”, “MNsure Director Under Fire For Tropical Vacation”

As Obamacare’s problems pile up, Democrats and defenders of the unpopular law continue to point to state-run health care exchanges, especially those run by Democrat governors, as success stories, but even in deep blue states, there’s little success in sight.


National Review’s Andrew Stiles writes today, “Faced with a politically embarrassing fiasco — Obamacare — the administration’s defenders have turned to an unlikely source for hope that all may not be lost. Steve Beshear, the Democratic governor of Kentucky, a state Mitt Romney won by 22 points, has been singled out for praise in light of the relative success of Kentucky’s state-run health-care exchange. He has become a darling of the MSNBC crowd and a ‘beaming’ Nancy Pelosi recently hosted him on Capitol Hill. However, the Kentucky success story appears to be just the latest in a long line of Obamacare distortions. To begin with, Beshear implemented Obamacare in Kentucky by circumventing the state legislature via executive order, insisting that it was the ‘right thing to do’ and that the people of Kentucky supported his action. . . . In November, the Kentucky Department of Insurance predicted that some 280,000 individual and small-group policies would be discontinued as a result of Obamacare. The state may have been spared many of the problems plaguing the federal health-care exchange, but it was not immune to President Obama’s ‘Lie of the Year’ that individuals who liked their current health plans would be able to keep them.”


Stiles also notes, “One survey conducted in late October, weeks after the exchange went online, found that while Beshear is personally popular, only 25 percent of Kentucky residents have a favorable opinion of Obamacare; 65 percent have an unfavorable opinion. . . . Just last week, voters in western Kentucky’s seventh state-house district had the opportunity to weigh in via a special election to replace a Democratic member who resigned in September. They narrowly elected Republican Suzanne Miles, a result that took both parties by surprise, especially the GOP. Democrats had held the seat for decades, and they enjoyed a significant registration advantage. . . . State Republicans attribute the win to Miles’s decision to highlight her opposition to Obamacare’s implementation. In the closing weeks of her campaign against Kim Humphrey, who was endorsed by Beshear and who had praised the governor’s Obamacare decision as ‘the right move,’ Miles focused on the Obamacare debacle.”


Meanwhile, other states run by Democrats are having even more trouble. Over the weekend, The Oregonian published a major report on the failure of Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber’s health care exchange. The story noted that 3 days before the exchange website was to open, exchange workers tested it and found “the website didn’t work. It crashed, it flashed repeated error messages, it couldn’t process the most routine insurance enrollment scenario.” The Oregonian continues, “More than two months later, the exchange continues to stymie the efforts of an army of software experts. Still plagued by as many as 40 critical programming defects – any one of which could prevent the site from operating – a functioning exchange remains weeks, perhaps months, away. Cover Oregon leaders, meanwhile, have swung their attention away from the website to processing paper applications by hand, hiring more than 400 reinforcements. . . . Dozens of interviews and the review of hundreds of documents and internal emails by The Oregonian reveal the roots of Oregon’s headline-grabbing fiasco run deep: Despite a consultant’s warnings, the exchange’s information technology project disregarded basic cost and management controls until a year into the work – until, arguably, it was too late. The state entered into time and materials contracts with its contractors with no fixed price, reducing the state’s leverage. State leaders scrapped a plan to hire an IT general contractor to manage the work, choosing to oversee the project itself despite a consultant’s finding that it lacked the expertise to do so. Oregon made an enormous and high-risk bet on Californiabased Oracle, handing over the lion’s share of the developmental responsibility to the giant software firm and paying it to date $90 million. In return, the state got substandard software code, repeated broken promises and perhaps the least functional exchange site in the country.”


In Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reports, “Less than two days after Gov. Martin O’Malley declared that the state’s online insurance marketplace finally worked for most consumers, a server crashed Monday, the call center became overwhelmed and the governor announced he was bringing in another contractor to improve the website. Some consumers and advocacy groups reported Monday that the website where consumers can buy health plans under the federal Affordable Care Act is easier to navigate. But others said they are still running into frozen screens, error messages and other problems that have plagued Maryland Health Connection since it launched Oct. 1. ‘It’s crashing all over the place,’ said Peter Beilenson, who has served in local health departments and now runs the insurance co-op Evergreen Health Cooperative Inc. He spoke after several failed attempts to enroll people through the exchange. ‘It’s stopping at various parts. Bottom line, no, not functional.’”


And the Minneapolis Star Tribune has this story out of Minnesota, where Democrat Mark Dayton is governor. The executive director of the state’s exchange “took a weeklong tropical vacation as the online insurance marketplace was swamped with problems.” The Star Tribune writes, “MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov took a weeklong vacation to Costa Rica with state Medicaid director James Golden late last month. The two have worked closely on the implementation of the new health insurance exchange. Spokespersons from MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Human Services said there is no conflict of interest in Todd-Malmlov and Golden’s relationship. . . . The state’s new insurance program has had a rocky rollout, leaving consumers frustrated and angry. . . . Gov. Mark Dayton has not defended the Costa Rican trip, saying Todd-Malmlov is responsible for her own vacation decisions.”


Of course, as the president frequently reminds Americans, Obamacare is more than a series of failing websites. There are stories from across the country of people losing insurance, paying higher premiums and deductibles, and losing their doctors. And there’s more to come. Politico writes, “Think the canceled health policies hurt the Obamacare cause? There’s another political time bomb lurking that could explode not too long before next year’s elections: rate hikes for small businesses. Like the canceled individual health plans, it’s another example of a tradeoff that health care experts have long known about, as the new rules for health insurance prices create winners and losers. But most Americans won’t become aware of it until some small business employees learn that their premiums are going up because of a law called — oops — the Affordable Care Act. . . . ‘The biggest shocker for the small business community is going to hit in October, which is interesting because it will be prime time for the election,’ said Jessica Waltman, a top lobbyist at the National Association of Health Underwriters.”


As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, “Fixing a few lines of code isn’t going to help people keep the plans they like – plans that work for their families. It isn’t going to help our constituents afford the law’s exorbitant premiums and deductibles. It isn’t going to help our constituents cope with fewer choices and lower quality of care. These are the things that actually matter to the middle class. So the Administration and its allies in Congress can talk until they’re hoarse about a website, or about nominees, or about whatever else they think they can say to distract Americans from the failures of this law. But it isn’t going to work. And to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare, you should know that Republicans are on your side.  We’re going to keep fighting for true health reform that lowers costs, for reform that promotes choice and a better quality of care. And we’re going to keep fighting against the idea that government knows better than you do when it comes to your family’s health care. That’s what our constituents expect of us. I know it’s what Kentuckians expect. And that’s just what Republicans are going to continue to do.”

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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