House Energy and Commerce Committee calls for GAO assistance with ACA marketplace IT platforms
To date, close to $5.5 bilion in Obamacare grants have been dispersed to cover the cost of the IT system transitions. House Energy and Commerce Committee members feel the money may not be enough to cover the IT system switchover -- and that American taxpayers will be left to cover the shortfalls.
The committee -- comprised of Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) -- has requested that the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) become involved.
In a letter signed by all the committee members, it was noted that 83 percent of the funds had been awarded to states that chose to put in place their own marketplaces and that problems had already cropped up.
"Roll-out and operation of the marketplaces has been problematic for many of these states, as websites froze or crashed and other technical problems hindered or prevented consumers’ ability to enroll in health care," they said in the letter. "Consequently, a number of states that struggled with their IT implementation are now using the federal IT platform to allow consumers to enroll. To date, four states -- Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon -- have chosen this course for one or more years of marketplace coverage."
An ACA mandate required all state-based marketplaces to be self-sustaining as of Jan. 1, 2015. The last ACA grants were awarded in Dec. 2014.
"In the absence of federal funds to support state marketplace operations, questions remain as to whether states will be able to financially sustain their marketplace IT systems," they said. "Given the significant federal investment in these state marketplaces, and the unavailability of federal grant funds to support state marketplace operations, we are requesting that the Government Accountability Office examine and report on this issue."
The committee asked GAO officials to look into several matters, such as what assistance CMS had offered to states transitioning to other marketplace IT platforms and what their costs would be; what assistance CMS would give as far as guidance toward self-sustainability; and how CMS officials would monitor state IT marketplace systems going forward.