Shutting the Barn Door after the Horse Has Bolted


Thursday May 28th, 2015   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:51am PDT   •  

13529734_S“Shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted” is an old American/English idiom that the Cambridge dictionary describes as meaning “to be so late in taking action to prevent something bad happening that the bad event has already happened.”

Who knew that the American and English farmers of yesteryear had such insight into the problems plaguing the modern day implementation of ObamaCare? Investor’s Business Daily describes a new chapter in the ongoing tragedy that is the implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) in “ObamaCare Exchanges Are a Model of Failure“:

Waste: After spending billions on state-run ObamaCare exchanges, the federal government is only now writing clear rules on how that money can be spent, while half of the exchanges head toward bankruptcy.

State-run exchanges were supposed to form the beating heart of ObamaCare. And the Obama administration dumped almost $5 billion in an effort to make it a reality.

The results have been a disaster.

Of the 37 states that received $2.1 billion in grants to establish an exchange, only 17 did so, and they got an additional $2.7 billion from the feds.

Of those 17, two went bankrupt in the first year. One of them, Oregon, had received a $60 million “early innovator grant.” Residents of those states now use the federal Healthcare.gov site.

But wait, it gets worse! IBD goes on to report that a number of the remaining states that still operate their own Affordable Care Act exchanges, such as California, Minnesota and Washington, may now be violating federal law in attempting to keep their ACA exchange “marketplaces” afloat:

A memo from Health and Human Services’ Inspector General Daniel Levinson warns that some of the remaining may be violating federal law in an effort to stay afloat.

ObamaCare told the states that they’d get plenty of federal money to help them set up their exchanges—but not run them. And starting this year, the state exchanges had to be self-financing—they had to pay their own way out of exchange fees or other funding sources.

Any federal grant money left over could be used only for things other than operations and maintenance.

As the IG explains, the rules on what these states can spend federal money on are vague, and as a result the exchanges “might have used, and might continue to use, establishment grant funds for operating expenses.”

Washington’s exchange, it found, has plans to spend $4 million of its remaining federal grant money on printing, postage and bank fees....

A memo from Health and Human Services’ Inspector General Daniel Levinson warns that some of the remaining may be violating federal law in an effort to stay afloat.

ObamaCare told the states that they’d get plenty of federal money to help them set up their exchanges—but not run them. And starting this year, the state exchanges had to be self-financing—they had to pay their own way out of exchange fees or other funding sources.

Any federal grant money left over could be used only for things other than operations and maintenance.

As the IG explains, the rules on what these states can spend federal money on are vague, and as a result the exchanges “might have used, and might continue to use, establishment grant funds for operating expenses.”

Washington’s exchange, it found, has plans to spend $4 million of its remaining federal grant money on printing, postage and bank fees.

The IG characterized this is “a significant matter” that requires “immediate attention.”

Which is why we’ll soon have clear rules written for how the funds established to set up and operate ObamaCare exchanges may be spent, just a little over five years after the Affordable Care Act became law and two years after its exchanges began operating. That’s some bureaucracy in action!




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