Obamacare Glitches or Meaningful Refom

The federal Obamacare exchanges opened for business more than a week ago, yet users have been unable to log in (much less get affordable insurance) and hit with countless website errors. Even those who think they signed up may not be covered because of computer glitches. Amazingly, this disaster of a website cost taxpayers $634 million.

With much still unknown about exchanges, it would seem unwise for the commonwealth to use the exchange to buy taxpayer-provided insurance for 500,000 to a million Pennsylvanians under the Medicaid expansion.

In contrast to Obamacare, Medicaid reforms in Rhode Island continue to offer a health care reform success story. These reforms have improved the quality of care for patients while slowing the government spending.

The Providence Journal notes:

Changes to the program [Medicaid] led to an actual drop in per-beneficiary costs, from $813 a month in 2010 to $770 in 2012, with no loss of quality of coverage. Everyone agrees with the above.

Certainly, Rhode Island’s response to greater freedom helped demonstrate the virtues of federalism — letting states act as laboratories of innovation, even under federal programs with guidelines designed to protect people and assure they are getting good care.

Using waivers to improve Medicaid is a good idea, but permission for flexibility still comes with rules. Rhode Island showed it could save money and retain a high quality of care. Others can too.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that Obamacare’s focus on expanding Medicaid without reform shows the administration is more concerned about expanding the number of voters dependent on government than helping the poor access quality care.

Given the many amendments, delays, and implementation failures to the Affordable Care Act from Congressional action, court rulings, and Obama administration decisions, Pennsylvania should demand flexibility to pursue Medicaid reforms with a proven track record rather than opt into a house of cards.