Delegate Tony McConkey's Official Blog

ObamaCares Rocky Start In Maryland

ObamaCares Rocky Start in Maryland is separate from the problems of the national exchange. Maryland spent $200 million to set up its own poor performing system.

by Marc Kilmer, Maryland Public Policy Institute

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the rollout of ObamaCare has been fairly disastrous for the Obama Administration. The problems with the federal health care exchange website are a continuing media story. But the problems with ObamaCare’s implementation aren’t only at the federal level. State health insurance exchange websites are faring poorly, too. Maryland is having its fair share of problems. This isn’t good news for those, like Gov. O’Malley, who embraced the law with such gusto.

The Washington Times has a good summary of the variety of problems faced by state bureaucrats as they try to get ObamaCare moving in Maryland. Among the highlights:

A variety of technical issues have plagued the site;
•Only around 1% of visitors to the site end up signing up for health insurance;
•The verification process on the site is cumbersome; and
•The small business health insurance exchange’s launch may be delayed.

Another problem? Over 95% of Marylanders enrolling through the website are being enrolled in Medicaid, not private health insurance. This is troubling for two reasons. The first is that for ObamaCare to be successful, it needs young, healthy people to buy insurance to subsidize the coverage of the older, sicker enrollees. Secondly, the more people on Medicaid the more tax dollars that have to be paid into that system.

Regardless of these issues, Marylanders appear optimistic about the future of the health care law, according to a new poll. Perhaps that’s because, as the poll points out, only around half are familiar with the website. However, even if many Marylanders have high hopes, it’s clear that the flawed implementation is dragging down the popularity of the president.

ObamaCare will continue to be a problem for Democrats, regardless of whether the health exchange websites get fixed. Many people will blame anything that’s wrong with the health system on it, regardless of whether the law directly caused it. That’s the danger of the type of rhetoric used by the president and the law’s supporters. They said we needed this law to fix the health care system. They got the law, and yet the health care system still has many flaws. If you’re a politician, don’t overpromise.

And yet, there may be a bright spot for Gov. O’Malley. When he embraced this law even when other governors shied away from it, I said that this was unwise since the law’s implementation would clearly cause problems. I figured that the governor would take a hit once these problems became evident. Given the widespread issues with ObamaCare, however, the fact that Gov. O’Malley is such a strong supporter is being overlooked. It’s the president, not the individual state governors who support the law, who is facing the heat. But let’s be clear – in Maryland the law’s problems have as much to do with the O’Malley Administration as they do with the Obama Administration.

It’s still early in the process of implementing ObamaCare. In the next few years, there will be many more pieces of this law put in place. Given the way the health insurance exchanges have failed, and given the law’s flawed design, I expect the problems caused by this law to grow. Maryland had a very dysfunctional health insurance marketplace before the law. Every indication says that this dysfunction will only get worse thanks to ObamaCare.

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