The billowing cloud of blue smoke surrounding ObamaCare once again parts, revealing a disaster whose scope is always kept secret from the American people until the last possible moment. From the Weekly Standard:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that Accenture Federal Services would be taking over for CGI Federal as the main contractor for Healthcare.gov. CMS documents reveal that without the new estimated $91.1 million contract, the government could end up making "erroneous payments to providers and insurers" and that "the entire healthcare reform program [will be] jeopardized."
Although a dozen companies were considered for the position, CMS only held meetings with the four companies that it determined could handle the work before awarding the estimated $91.1 million one-year contract to Accenture. Due to time constraints, competitive bids were not used; rather, CMS estimated the costs to be incurred, including up to $2 million in "travel costs" alone.
Remember when they told us everything was fixed after Thanksgiving weekend, nothing to worry about, October was a bit rough but now HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her team of brilliant managers and red-pill super-geeks have everything well in hand? Forget all that - we need a hasty $91 million temporary contract with a company far superior to the idiots Barack Obama gave $637 million of our money to, or the whole healthcare program is boned. And the deadline for implementing emergency fixes to avoid this catastrophe is... mid-March. Not a moment to lose! Spend bales of taxpayer money, stat!
What did original ObamaCare designers CGI Federal - the sole bidders on the original contract, whose senior VP just happens to be Michelle Obama's old college classmate - drop the ball on? As the Weekly Standard notes, the CMS report tactfully avoids calling them out by name, but complains that "the current contractor did not deliver software and services needed to process inbound effectuated enrollments to an Enrollment Data Store (EDS), perform duplicate enrollment checks, support enrollment reconciliation with FFM issuers, and perform payment calculations of Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC) and Cost Sharing Reductions (CRS) for all Marketplace programs, state and Federal."
Oh, is that all? I can see how the titanic HHS bureaucracy might have failed to notice that stuff was missing, until some harried Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Something-Or-Other did the "Kramer slide" into Kathleen Sebelius' office and shouted that all of ObamaCare is about to collapse in a cloud of erroneous payments, which will not only pose an immediate financial problem for insurance providers, but would throw off their ability to calculate risk factors for future insurance plans (and the "risk corridors" that will be instrumental in the forthcoming insurance industry bailout!) and maybe even disrupt communications with the IRS, which as you know is now a key player in the reconfigured health insurance marketplace, since they'll be the ones who punish you with trans-Constitutional tax/penalties for failing to obey the government's orders to buy health insurance, and you might also be hearing from them if you didn't figure out your subsidies correctly. Remember, you're on the hook for estimating all that stuff, because Obama's crappy system can't do it yet. You're supposed to guesstimate your income for the coming year to determine subsidy eligibility, and if you're wrong, the IRS will expect you to repay the excess subsidies, which could run into thousands of dollars.
According to the CMS report, if this punch list of outstanding issues isn't resolved by the March deadline, the resulting chaos could "potentially put the entire health insurance industry at risk." Sounds like we have a lively spring ahead of us.
So Team Obama told us the A-team was riding into town on white horses in November to fix the disaster left behind by the original no-bid B-team boondoggle engineers, but it turns out the original guys were really the C-team, the knights of November were the B-team, and now we've got to slip $91 million across the table to hire the real A-team to fix Healthcare.gov's back-end apocalypse, which they were telling us not to worry about ten minutes ago.
Meanwhile, the latest "anecdote" of ObamaCare failure Democrats don't want you to think about is the Davert family of Michigan. They, like so many other Americans, believed Barack Obama's oft-repeated lie that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan." And they really needed their health insurance, because father Ken has cerebral palsy, while mother Melissa and their twin 15-year-old girls have a disease that make their bones fragile, coupled with vulnerability to lung infections. But ObamaCare wiped out their old plan with mandates, Obama's super-expensive junk software lost their initial application for ObamaCare coverage, they were denied coverage when they reapplied, and they ended up having to settle for coverage with out-of-pocket expenses four times higher than what they're accustomed to, while they wait for a 90-day appeal to the ObamaCare commissars to play out.
Eventually, after considerable intervention from their congressman - ObamaCare can be made to kinda sorta work, with months of effort, provided a member of Congress or corporate CEO directly intervenes on your behalf - the plight of the Daverts was noticed by a Health and Human Services official who read about them on a website, and according to Mrs. Davert, "he said there was a glitch in the computer system that was causing applicants who potentially may be eligible for Medicaid to get denied coverage. He thinks that might have been what happened in our case."
Barack Obama sure as hell won't be inviting them to join him on stage for any photo ops, will he? Because then he might have to explain why he never used that phone he keeps boasting about to check up on the progress of the almost completely useless megabucks computer system he dropped on America last October. Far from emerging media mythology about how the rollout was "botched" but it's all behind us now, the aftershocks of both the original launch failure and remaining glitches, malfunctions, and just plain unwritten code are still messing up people's lives... and if they don't get a whole lot of work done in the next six weeks, the entire health care system might face an existential crisis.
Update: In exciting state-exchange faceplant news, the Minnesota exchange is such a disaster that it might be scrapped altogether. Even in this idyllic paradise of post-Thanksgiving ObamaCare upgrade, MNSure still features a "non-existent" management structure, "crisis mode" decision-making on a daily basis, hour-long wait times at the call center, leaving the system completely unable to handle the hypothetical surge that would be required to hit April 1 enrollment targets. But they've got nothing on Oregon, whose $160 million state exchange has seen a mere 23,000 of those nebulous shopping-cart "selections" ObamaCare apologists love to count as enrollment... and not one confirmed purchase with initial payment in the can.