After Multiple Enrollment Failures, Hawaii Dumps State Obamacare Exchange

Katie Pavlich
|
Posted: Jun 08, 2015 7:30 AM
After Multiple Enrollment Failures, Hawaii Dumps State Obamacare Exchange

Last week Americans For Tax Reform released new information showing that during Hawaii's special Obamacare enrollment period, zero people enrolled. The total state cost for the exchange sits at more than $200 million.

While Hawaii enrolled zero individuals and is the worst performing state, it is not alone. Vermont signed up only 97 households, while Rhode Island enrolled just 25 households.

Hawaii’s dismal performance should not be surprising. The website cost taxpayers $205 million but could only enroll 8,592 individuals in year one. Cost to taxpayers per enroll: $23,899.

The state legislature recently rejected a $28 million bailout for the website meaning that a contingency plan to dismantle the exchange and migrate to the federal exchange will be implemented immediately. Unfortunately, taxpayers are not off the hook yet as it is expected that moving to the federally run healthcare.gov will cost $30 million.

Now, due to a lack of enrollment and a failed website, Hawaii has scrapped the state based exchange altogether and will be moving to the federal Obamacare system. 

Hawaii is taking its troubled ObamaCare insurance exchange off life support, the governor’s office announced Friday, the latest addition to a growing number of state exchanges forced to close after operations became unsustainable.

The once-highly praised Hawaii Health Connector has been “unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain operations,” Gov. David Ige’s office said in a statement. The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) informed the exchange last week that federal funds were no longer available to support long-term operations.

“The state is working with the Connector and CMS to determine what functions can be transitioned to state oversight to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the next Open Enrollment in November 2015,” Ige said.

Oops.

I wonder if the Obama administration will accuse blue Hawaii of playing politics or attempting to sabotage President Obama's signature health care law by scrapping the state based exchange. After all, that's what the White House said about Republican governors to refused to implement state exchanges in the first place.

Hawaii's decision to scrap the exchange comes just ahead of the Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, the case surrounding whether federal subsides taken by people in states without state based exchanges are legal.