June 19, 2013

GAO report: Smooth launch for health law no certainty

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Having failed to get the Supreme Court to strike down "Obamacare" last year, Republicans in Congress have kept trying to repeal it, managing to block administration requests for additional implementation funds. In the states — with some notable exceptions — Republican governors and legislatures have generally refused to set up state-run exchanges or expand Medicaid.

However, the report found that some states where the law has run into resistance also seem to be simultaneously trying to accommodate it. GAO said that of the 34 states in which the federal government is taking the lead in setting up the new markets, 15 are expected to carry out at least some functions of the exchanges. That could be a stepping stone to full state control later.

The report also included a breakdown of spending on the federal exchanges and the data hub, which the administration had not previously provided, despite ongoing requests by media organizations.

As of March, the administration had spent almost $394 million, mostly through payments to 55 different contractors. That figure does not include the salaries of hundreds of government officials dedicated to the massive project. That project is forever linked to Obama's legacy.

The largest single ledger item: $84 million for the federal exchange computer infrastructure, being designed and built by CGI Federal, Inc., a Virginia-based government contractor.

The contractor building the data hub, Maryland-based Quality Software Services, Inc., received $55 million.

Third on the contracting totem pole was Booz Allen Hamilton, which received nearly $38 million to provide technical assistance for enrollment and eligibility.

The report said the administration will need another $2 billion in the next fiscal year to establish and operate the federal exchanges. Of that, Congress would have to provide $1.5 billion, while user fees paid by insurers account for the remainder.

It's unclear if congressional Republicans will sign off on the funding.

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