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Feds put $168M toward Vermont’s health care exchange — $3,928 per uninsured Vermonter — and it doesn’t work

Written by . Posted in 2013 Elections, Issue Watch, Yep, This Happened

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Published on November 01, 2013

For all we hear about bad Republican governors sabotaging Obamacare by not setting up their own state exchange websites, it’s worth noting that any of those states’ websites could have turned into another Oregon or Vermont. In those two states, where Republican sabotage seems especially unlikely, the websites just don’t work, one month into Obamacare.

Let’s look at this oped in the Rutland Herald from this week, about Vermont’s non-functioning exchange website. There is some outrage over the fact that the governor said the site was ready to go, best in the nation, and he has been proven quite wrong.

Now, let me know if you see something wrong here.

On Sept. 12 the nationally known consulting group Gartner Inc. delivered a report to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The report assessed the operational readiness of the various state health insurance exchanges as the Obamacare-mandated launch date — Oct. 1 — approached.

Vermont Health Connect, the state’s $170 million exchange….

Wait. Wait. Wait.

WHAT?!

 the state’s $170 million exchange….

Now, to be completely accurate here, the number appears to be about $168 million that the feds have allocated in grants applicable to Vermont’s exchange. That’s not counting the $35 million for research designed to help Vermont and other New England states as well. The Vermont website itself (developed by CGI, the people who brought you HealthCare.gov) cost only $83.9 million, after its budget doubled from original estimates. The state agency running the exchange, on the other hand has a budget of $374 million.

But just take this $170 million in CMS grants designed to help move Obamacare forward in the second-smallest state in America. Vermont has only 626,000 people in all, only 528,000 of whom are below Medicare age. It has only 257,000 households, and only 42,760 uninsured as of last year.

As of recently, Vermont had only 591 people who have actually signed up for Obamacare pland through the site, and that goes up to 950 if you include Medicaid enrollments.

So let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the website does not work, a whole month after Obamacare launched. Here’s the breakdown on what Vermont was given to create its exchange:

  • $270 per man, woman and child.
  • $654 per household.
  • $3,928 per uninsured Vermonter.
  • $177,000 per newly insured person so far.
  • $284,000 per person enrolled in exchange plans so far.

To see the costs of the non-working website alone, excluding all of the money for “planning” and other purposes, just divide the numbers in half.

Not a dime of that money has been spent on anyone’s medical care or insurance. Before Obamacare sent the individual insurance marketplace skyward, $168 million might have been enough to pay the premiums for individual insurance plans for every uninsured person in the state.

It’s also about two-thirds of what it would cost for Vermont to cover every uninsured person under Medicaid for a year.

And — oh, yeah, by the way — the exchange doesn’t work.

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