Peter Suderman on the Latest Obamacare Workaround

October, when it became clear that Obamacare’s online enrollment
system wasn’t functioning, President Obama gave a
speech in which he told people who wanted to sign up
to contact call centers instead, or fill out pen and paper
applications. This week, the administration announced that it would
be employing another manual workaround, this time for critical
insurer payment systems. In this case, it’s not because the
payment system is broken. Instead, it’s because the part of the
system that is supposed to both calculate how much money the
government owes insurers in premium subsidy and cost-sharing
payments and make the appropriate payments simply hasn’t been built

What hasn’t been built can’t be used, but insurers need to be
paid in order for the system to function. So the administration has
decided to require insurers to estimate how much they are owed
and submit payment requests manually. Later, after the
systems are built, the plan is to sort out the details and figure
out the exact amounts that should have been billed, then reconcile
any differences.

Because it deals with the insurance industry side of the system,
this temporary, technical tweak will probably garner far less
attention than the ongoing problems with the consumer side of the
federal exchange system. But as Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman
explains, the on-the-fly patch offers a revealing moment for the
law all the same, one that highlights how unfinished,
unaccountable, and unworkable the health law continues to be.

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from Hit & Run

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