Imagine that — A massive government bureaucracy given almost a head start of more than three years to get up and running appears to be well on its way to not being ready.
Julie Appleby covered the situation at the Washington Post yesterday. Steven Hayward at Powerline accurately called it an item which “ought to be on the front page above the fold,” and wasn’t. It also “just so happens” to be an early vindicator of free-market capitalism as better able than the government to set up and manage complex systems. Here are several paragraphs from Appleby’s report, which will be followed by key points from Hayward (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Concern growing over deadlines for health-care exchanges
With many states unwilling or unable to get insurance exchanges operational by the health-care law’s deadline of Jan. 1, 2014, pressure is growing on the federal government to do the job for them.
But health-care experts are starting to ask whether the fallback federal exchange called for in the 2010 law will be operational by the deadline in states that will not have their exchanges ready.
The federal exchange — like the state models — would be a one-stop Web site where individuals and small businesses could compare insurance policy offerings on price, coverage and quality.
The exchanges also will assist applicants in determining whether they are eligible for Medicaid or for federal subsidies or tax credits to help offset premiums. Thus, the exchanges will need to incorporate state and federal data on income, employment and residency. Enrollment through the state and federal exchanges is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013.
It’s hard to know how far along the federal government is because the Obama administration has “been very reluctant to provide any updates on progress,” said Dan Schuyler, a director at the consulting firm Leavitt Partners in Salt Lake City, which is advising states on the exchanges.
The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.
Those designing a federal exchange face enormous technical, political and financial challenges.
Other readers may feel differently, but I don’t get a good feeling knowing that the government exchange will have all that income and employment info available to any number of potential prying eyes.
Heyward points out how this vindicates classical economist Friedrich Hayek:
… the Post, like most everyone else, doesn’t understand what a big story it is. And it is clinical study of Hayek’s “knowledge problem”—the impossibility of centralizing fundamentally dispersed knowledge in a timely and accurate way.
… Obamacare has a fallback position: if states can’t (or won’t) make the deadline, the federal government will step in and run the exchange out of Washington. I’ve heard rumors for months now that the Dept. of Health and Human Services is terrified of having to do this, and doubts it can be done by the deadline. The Post story would seem to lend some credence to these rumors …
… Another Obama high-speed train wreck to nowhere.
Only if it isn’t declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or repealed.
By the way, there are lots of “health insurance exchanges” out there already. Here’s one, and this is not meant as an advertisement, because there are many others: insweb.com. Why, if you’re an individual, all you have to do is put in your birthday and you get back dozens of plan coverage options and premium quotes — and wonder of wonders, they managed to do it without Kathleen Sebelius’s help.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.