This Obamacare horror story will no doubt be summarily discarded by Harry Reid, but Hawaii's taxpayers may take notice anyway. Remember, Hawaii is one of those enlightened, down-for-the-cause states that happily agreed to fully implement Obamacare -- the sundry failures of which have been lamely and inaccurately blamed on less cooperative states. The law is "going to be smoother in places...where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it," President Obama told a cheering audience of partisans in late September. An yet, like its true-blue counterparts in Maryland, Oregon and elsewhere, the Hawaiian exchange remains a shambolic, ludicrously expensive mess. The Los Angeles Times reports:
When the federal government began parceling out billions of dollars for the new health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's home state was in an enviable position. Hawaii already had one of the highest insured rates in the nation as the result of a 40-year-old state law requiring employers to provide coverage. The state received more than $205 million in federal money to build a health insurance exchange to serve those still uninsured. Yet four months after enrollments began, the Hawaii Health Connector has allocated $120 million while signing up only about 4,300 people for health plans — fewer than any other state. Despite officials' initial hopes of enrolling tens of thousands of Hawaiians, only 400 employers have applied for plans for their employees.
Hawaii's taxpayers have spent approximately $28,000 per enrollee -- and that's assuming the 4,300 number isn't significantly and deliberately inflated like the rest of Obamacare's enrollment figures. That's still better than Oregon's clusterfark, in which Democrats in that state spent more than $330 million on an exchange that still hadn't enrolled a single person online as of last month. Meanwhile, things could get worse down in paradise before they get better:
Lawmakers...have struggled for months to get basic financial information or even an explanation of how the Health Connector will remain viable when federal grant money runs out this year. The rollout has also been mired in technical problems, with the website overseen by the same company that built the federal government's troubled HealthCare.gov website...The original October deadline was missed by 15 days, and contractors are still trying to correct problems that have left thousands of applications caught between the agency's system and a system built by another contractor that checks for Medicaid eligibility.
Hawaii's exchange is currently being run by its second executive director since October; the first one "quit in December without a clear explanation." There seems to be a lot of that going around. In Maryland, home to another ousted Obamacare official, things are so bad that Democrats are fighting among themselves over whether or not to abandon their nine-figure, taxpayer-funded exchange misadventure and simply join the federal program. Back to the national sign-up totals for a moment: HHS announced excitedly yesterday that they've reached the milestone of 4 million enrollees in private plans. We recently explained why these statistics don't reflect reality. First, they don't account for unpaid-for "plan selections." Factoring those in, you can knock off at least 800,000 people right off the top, based on expert estimates. Also, the administration can't or won't reveal how many of these "new" enrollees were, in fact, previously insured (and were dropped from their previous plans in contravention of a gold-plated presidential promise). In spite of Team Obamacare's misleading data and happy talk, we also noted that program enrollment appeared to be slowing down in January. Has that trend continued into February? Philip Klein pores over the data and says yes:
The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday declared a "significant milestone" for President Obama's health care law by claiming that 4 million Americans had now signed up for coverage. But a closer examination of the numbers suggests that the pace of sign-ups is slowing In a similar blog post on Jan. 24, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, praised the "milestone" of 3 million sign-ups. That represented a gain of 800,000 individuals since the end of December, when HHS had put the number at 2.2 million. But the Tuesday claim of 4 million sign-ups represents a smaller 700,000 gain from the 3.3 million total the administration reported as of Feb. 1. Last year, before the law's exchanges had opened, an HHS memo had projected about 200,000 more individuals would sign up in the month than in January. That memo estimated nearly 1.3 million sign-ups in February -- or nearly 600,000 more than HHS claims have signed up thus far...Before the botched rollout of the law's exchanges, the administration had defined success as 7 million total sign-ups.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography