California Obamacare is failing and is trying to hide its failure.
Sharyl Attkisson has turned her journalistic attention to the California health exchange at the Daily Signal: “Incompetence, Mismanagement Plague California’s Obamacare Insurance Exchange.”
Consultant Aiden Hill became a “foxhole convert” to Obamacare in July of 2010 when he lost his insurance, had a serious medical issue and couldn’t get a new policy.
“I lived through a health care nightmare. That’s one reason why I took a cut in my pay rate to work for Covered California.”
In March 2013, Hill was hired as project manager over Covered California’s massive $120 million call center effort. In just six short months, it would face an avalanche of customers seeking insurance mandated under the new law.
But five months on the job converted Hill from avid supporter to disenchanted whistleblower. He says the secretive and dysfunctional culture was more interested in cheerleading than real results. After he persistently raised concerns, Covered California abruptly terminated his contract. He says the experience drove him to raise allegations about waste and cover ups at a Covered California board meeting.
Other officials integral to Covered California’s efforts concur with Hill’s assessment. One of them headed the largest call center.
“They started this way too late for what they needed to do,” says the official who was hired in April 2013, five months before the website’s launch. He has since left that position and asked not to be named to protect his current job status.
Covered California denies it all, but they can’t deny their abysmal enrollment rate. They were expecting a half million new enrollments for 2015. Instead they received fewer than eight thousand. Furthermore, thirty-five percent of people who enrolled in health insurance in 2014, dropped it for 2015, despite the law and the threatened penalties. They didn’t want anything to do with it.
Attkisson reviews the rollout of the health exchange and finds that it was full of problems just like the rollout of healthcare.gov at the Federal level.
For both the growth of the number insured and for retention, California has managed to be the worst in the country.
The devastating crash of Covered California’s website and call centers on Oct. 1, 2013 was “the canary in the coalmine, an early warning of deep dysfunction,” according to Hill.
Pre-launch testing had proven disastrous. As with the national HealthCare.gov website, “it was breaking at the first click of the button,” says the former call center manager who worked under Hill. “Behind the scenes, states were worried. I know we were worried.”
Covered California contractors projected 10,000 calls the first day. The call center manager says he knew they were way off. “I and my training manager, who had launched call centers before, projected 20,000. We had 21,000 on day one. Our contractors were wrong.”
All of this was dealt with by lying and covering up the problems as much as possible. It is a matter of record that Covered California asked and received an additional 155 million dollars to fix problems.
With the website down, they resorted to paper applications. This provided a way to pad the numbers:
Covered California counted duplicate applications as if they were enrollments, giving the impression that more people had successfully signed up. (The Obama administration did the same with national HealthCare.gov applications.)
For example, Covered California’s Lee publicly touted 30,000 successful enrollments for the first month. Hill says the actual number was closer to 4,000.
“A lot of the information that came out of Covered California was misleading or outright lies,” Hill insists.
Many of these untruths were picked up uncritically by the mainstream media. Covered California was touted as proof that Obamacare was working.
Attkisson’s long article doesn’t do justice to all that went wrong with Covered California. A second part of the story is due out soon.