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Covered California has not been much in the news of late, but that does not mean that all goes well with the Golden State’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare. As we noted last year, Emily Bazar of the Center for Health Reporting wrote that Covered California’s computer system is “responsible for countless glitches and widespread consumer misery.” When people turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare, they found it practically impossible to cancel their plan with Covered California. The premiums kept on coming, and their retention in the system left some Californians open to tax penalties. Covered California bosses blamed this and other problems on the $454 million computer system, and state management has not exactly been a model of transparency. On the other hand, California’s Obamacare squad has been successful at spending money on promotional campaigns, including $1.3 million on an absurd promotional video featuring exercise guru Richard Simmons. Covered California also shelled out $184 million in contracts, without competitive bidding, to firms and people with ties to Covered California bosses. That kind of cronyism remains a concern.
As Christopher Cadelago notes in the Sacramento Bee, a new report from State Auditor Elaine Howle slams Covered California for not following its own standards when awarding lucrative contracts without competitive bidding. In some cases, Covered California failed to explain why they were using a sole-source contract in the first place. Cadelago reports that Covered California did use competitive bidding in a $150 million advertising contract, and in $6 million deal for public relations. So despite all the dysfunction and consumer misery reported by Emily Bazar, Covered California continues to spend money at a rapid pace. If taxpayers don’t like this plan, they pretty much have to keep it.