One of the ironies of the ACA is that many of the governors who supported the bill failed spectacularly in its implementation –Oregon, Maryland, Minnesota and Massachusetts, which collapsed entirely and state officials, lack a plan for fixing it in time for the fall’s enrollments. The centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted a management process to ensure accountability. It involved “gate reviews” a periodic assessment of progress in seven areas: CMS designed the process to ensure the continued federal funding would lead to secure and functional exchanges.
These new reviews required a state official to make critically important representation about the readiness of the state exchange. This allowed CMS to determine whether an exchange should continue to receive massive amounts of federal funding. Law enforcement officials in Oregon and Maryland are asking whether state officials misrepresented their progress in order to keep the funding spigot open.
Obama should start by reviewing the performance of the key law enforcement official, HHS inspector general Daniel Levinson.
In Oregon a complaint concerning $300 million in squandered taxpayer money finally provoked the FBI, the HHS inspector general and the GAO to open investigations into many issues, including whether Cover Oregon officials had misrepresents their progress. Making false statement is a federal felony.
Inspector General Levinson has repeatedly shirked his duties in order to be a good ACA team player. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whose confirmation as secretary of HHS would use “the full extent of the law” to recover misspent health exchange funding. To insist that AG Holder sends the FBI into Maryland to babysit Levisnosn’s see-no-evil employees; any action less than that will strongly suggest that the fix is in.
Massachusetts website still does not allow residents to obtain insurance as the ACA requires, and state officials will no decide until late July whether to rebuild the site or use HealthCAre.gov. we are now six months away from the next round of health exchange enrollments.
Gov. Patrick has stonewalled attempts by his heavily Demo legislature to obtain an accounting of where the money went. The state that served as a model for the ACA has already spent over a half billion dollars. Patrick placed as many as 200,000 applicants who requested financial assistance onto Medicaid—whether they qualified or not. It lacks the data to come clean with the public and CMS as to how many hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on Medicaid payments for people ineligible for it.
State attorney general Martha Coakley have been studiously silent about evidence of possible criminal activity in Mass., which includes untrue statements made to obtain
Funding as multiple cases of no-bid contracts going to entities paid to oversee
His stonewalling of financial data that other states have disclosed is the first indicator of a problem. The second sign is that there is simply no credible explaining other than outright misrepresentation—for how Mass., slipped through the CMS gate reviews without having even a marginally functional beta version of its exchange. The states oversight board complained about their own staff’s failure to inform them promptly that the system had failed.
The third sign of misconduct is that Patrick has stripped the executive director of the state exchanges of her program management and contracting responsibilities. Functional control of the states exchange in eh hands of his trusted former deputy chief of staff for cabinet affair, a labor lawyer who is totally lacking in the technical expertise or experience necessary to turn around the failed exchange.
Minnesota’s arrogant and inexperienced executive director withheld critically important information form her board. Ill-advised software contracts compounded timeline failures produced primarily by poor planning and execution. Minnesota passed the CMS gate reviews even though as in Mass., it could not test a beta system before its failed launch. We need to know how CMS could have possibly found adequate progress for functionality and security in light of this disarray and laws enforcement needs to know too.
Obama is setting up his new HHS secretary for failure if he hesitates to hold his appointees accountable. We cannot rely on investigations by an inspector general who has been a significant and longstanding part of the problem he is investigating. Obama should fire Levinson, Holder to appoint a special counsel with broad powers to oversee an investigation into all the failed state exchanges in order to determine whether federal and state official committed felonies (WHEN PIGS FLY—HOLDER WILL)
Congress needs to ask whether partisan considerations—or personal relationships such as the friendship between Obma and Patrick—influenced decisions by CMS officials to continue funding completely non-functional systems.
Source—weekly standard, Michael astrue,