Just 10 weeks before an election that could place Obamacare on a very different trajectory, The Detroit News reports that Gov. Rick Snyder has chosen to bypass the Legislature and enter a “joint partnership” with the federal government to create the “exchange” through which the law’s mandates and subsidies will be administered. A spokesperson for the Snyder administration told The News that the governor is concerned with meeting timelines mandated by the law.
He shouldn’t be, because it's all but certain those timelines will not be met regardless of what state and federal policymakers do. A useful memo just published by Dr. Robert Graboyes of the National Federation of Independent Business brings this reality into sharp relief. Here’s the relevant portion from the memo’s “Q&A” section:
Will PPACA’s key institutions be up and running by 2014? The exchanges and other provisions will require a massive new information technology infrastructure that merges individual-level data (on all 310,000,000 Americans) from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury (and the Internal Revenue Service), plus Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, 50 states, exchanges, and hundreds of insurers. Governors of both parties reported a year ago that HHS was missing crucial deadlines related to the construction of this IT infrastructure. Indeed, some skeptics (I am one) question whether this unparalleled IT integration will ever be feasible.
Graboyes isn’t the only one. As reported here earlier, in a recent interview Wisconsin Secretary of Health Dennis Smith also explained why the law’s deadlines are beyond unrealistic:
We have no other plan that we are taking because we think the reality is the federal government cannot meet its deadlines for implementing PPACA,” Smith said. “No one knows what a federal exchange looks like. The two major components that an exchange is supposed to do, which is determine eligibility and to complete the business transaction to pay premiums to health care plans that millions of Americans are supposed to pick, nobody knows what those look like. The administration has failed to release a credible business plan where objective observers could conclude that they’re going to pull this off.”
Smith’s extensive prior experience lends weight to his prognosis: Prior to his current position he ran the federal Medicaid program for President George W. Bush, and was a health care analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
Also reported here, a letter to President Obama from Virginia Gov. and Republican Governors Association Chairman Bob McDonnell posed a lengthy series of detailed questions that exposed the depth of uncertainty surrounding the law’s implementation even within the federal bureaucracy.
It appears that Gov. Snyder is bypassing the Legislature to pursue a goal that simply isn’t going to happen, and meet deadlines that Attorney General Bill Schuette has aptly characterized as “phony as a three-dollar bill.”