Just to be clear, in defense of Massachusetts: The state did not screw up Obamacare itself, and its record on health insurance coverage for our residents remains the best in the nation. Massachusetts screwed up — in fact, you could use harsher language than that — the health-insurance marketplace website that was part of Obamacare, as WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has been covering for months.
But that’s just a headline quibble. Sarah Kliff’s Vox feature today — How Massachusetts Screwed Up Obamacare — provides some answers to the many of us who still feel baffled by the state’s ability to go from top of the class nationally on health insurance to the Obamacare dunce corner. The most memorable quote, from former Connector chief Jon Kingsdale: “”In some ways it’s harder to rehab your house when you’re still living it.” And the basic explanation:
The state spent years trying to build what they hoped would be the country’s most advanced marketplace. What got in their way, state officials and outside experts say, were poor management, a too-ambitious agenda, and a failed relationship with its main technology vendor, CGI — the same company that managed the failed launch of healthcare.gov.
Massachusetts’ prior experience running an exchange may have turned into a distinct disadvantage, some say: it led the state to underestimate how different — and challenging — building an Obamacare exchange would be.