State Internal Docs Contradict Gov. Patrick: Show $1B Price Tag for ACA Transition

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Governor Patrick has now called our Health Connector cost estimate report “politically motivated,” “spurious” and “inaccurate.” He’s gone back and accused Pioneer of “making stuff up out of thin air.” He can employ whatever words he likes, but he cannot deny the cruel mathematics of public finance.

The Governor needs to ask his staff for more information, as their documents in federal filings show stunning and accumulating costs of the state’s effort to develop a Health Connector 2.0.

On Saturday, the Boston Herald reported (“Internal documents suggest $1B Obamacare cost“) that confidential “internal working papers” confirmed by state officials project that putting hundreds of thousands of applicants on temporary Medicaid plans will cost $560.2 million in FY15.

These plans were made available to those unable to enroll through the failed website, regardless of their income eligibility for subsidized care. The decision drew criticism from U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, who sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As the Boston Herald notes, this figure – when added to the $138.7 million already spent on the plans during the last fiscal year, and the $254 million cost for the state’s Affordable Care Act-compliant website   — totals $954 million. That’s right in line with Pioneer’s projection in the report that drew such sharp criticism from the Governor (“Study: $1B Price Tag for ACA Health Exchange & New Medicaid Program in Mass“).

Though we wish The Boston Globe had shown more faith in our cost projection, we agree with the editorial board’s call on Sunday for the state Auditor to investigate now, not later (“Mass. health website fiasco still haunts state government“).

The Governor can disagree with Pioneer Institute’s reporting, but his own staff members, in internal documents to the federal government, show that he has no reason to question our projections.

That’s why we urged in an open letter to the Governor that he provide complete transparency on the full range of costs associated with the transition to the new health exchange and Medicaid coverage levels.