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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Yes, the Obamacare Train Wrecks Continue.



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A few posts down, some guy in the comments concludes that because of the lack of train-wreck gifs on Campaign Spot lately, Obamacare must be functioning well.

Obviously, this guy doesn’t subscribe to the Morning Jolt.

The End-of-the Week Roundup of News Obamacare Fans Would Prefer to Ignore

Let’s begin with some genuine good news on Obamacare: One headache-inducing issue has been resolved.

Volunteer fire departments are off the hook when it comes to providing health insurance to firefighters.

It’s a sigh of relief from potential federal rules from the Affordable Care Act that some said would have been financially devastating.

The A.C.A., also known as Obamacare requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance benefits, or face a tax penalty.

However, a January 10 blog post from the U.S. Department of Treasury, volunteer firefighters, emergency workers, and paramedics will be exempt. This means that taxes won’t be going up and the number of firefighters in the area will stay the same.

One down, about a million more headache-inducing problems to go. Oh, you thought Healthcare.gov is fixed? Nope.

“HealthCare.gov is not secure today,” David Kennedy, head of computer security consulting firm TrustedSec LLC, said at a Thursday hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

He said “nothing has really changed” since a hearing of the same committee in November, when he and three other expert witnesses said they believed the site was not secure and three of them said it should be shut down immediately.

“I don’t understand how we’re still discussing whether the website is insecure or not,” Kennedy told the committee. “It is insecure — 100 percent. It’s not a question of whether or not its insecure, it’s what we need to do to fix it.”

Before the hearing, Kennedy told Reuters the government has yet to plug more than 20 vulnerabilities that he and other security experts reported to the government shortly after HealthCare.gov went live on October 1.

Sometimes the glitches are almost funny — as long as they’re not happening to you:

Some in Connecticut trying to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act have run into trouble because they have been identified as being incarcerated.

The problem is that they aren’t in prison, and for some, never have been, according to Kathleen Tallarita, a spokesperson for Access Health CT, the state exchange that administers ACA health care applications in Connecticut.

The Federal Data Services Hub is responsible for incorrectly identifying some applicants as being incarcerated, according to Tallarita.

“Look, Mrs. Needermeyer, I know you thought your age and arthritis would be the main issues with your health-insurance application, but the system here says you’ve got a long history of violent carjackings and getting caught in high-speed chases. Lady, from what I see here, your life is like a Grand Theft Auto game.”

This doesn’t quite tie to Healthcare.gov, but it’s an interesting data point about that chief contractor, CGI:

North Carolina has stopped development of a multimillion-dollar tax collection computer system, and Department of Revenue officials say they will start over and re-bid the entire project.

The information technology system, which had been in the works for five years, is the latest to come up short of the state’s expectations, although it’s unclear exactly what caused the department to pull the plug. The system was being built by the same company responsible for the defect-riddled rollout of the federal website associated with the Affordable Care Act.

“After considerable review of the project status and direction, (the Department of Revenue) decided that a new direction for replacing our tax processing system was needed,” said Trevor Johnson, a spokesman for the department.

The state and its vendor, CGI, agreed to part ways on Friday, but a formal termination agreement had not been signed as of Wednesday afternoon, Johnson said.

And now we know that the federal government finally lost all faith in CGI’s abilities:

The new document indicates that officials at CMS — the agency overseeing the HealthCare.gov rollout — lost faith that CGI could complete critical behind-the-scenes construction of the Obamacare website by mid-March, a critical deadline to ensure the stability of the health law and the insurance market.

Without a working “Financial Management Platform . . . the entire health care reform program is jeopardized,” CMS officials explained in the document. Coverage, payment and record-keeping were all affected.

“If this functionality is not complete by mid-March 2014, the government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers,” according to the document. It went on to note, “Inaccurate issuance of payments . . . could seriously put them at financial risk; potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers.”

The new system’s raw deal is increasingly clear:

Greeted by higher premiums, less generous coverage and more paperwork, small businesses that offer health coverage to employees are choosing to renew existing plans rather than buy them through President Barack Obama’s program. Complicating matters is the government’s failure to complete the online exchange for small businesses; in 36 states, there will be no website offering ready information on the plans until November.


Tags: Obamacare


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