The state of California has come up with a novel way to ease concerns about the cost of administering the Affordable Care Act--they aren't going to let anyone know how much is being spent on the program. The Associated Press reported this week that the amount the state is paying for Covered California will not be subject to open records laws. As noted in the article, this means hundreds of millions of dollars a year will shielded from public review--and nobody will really be able to tell if the Affordable Care Act is actually making care "affordable".
Supporters of the coverup claim it is necessary to ensure fairness in the bid process for contracts with private companies. If other firms knew how much the state was paying for Service X, someone could come in with a lowball offer the next time around and "steal" the contract. (Which when you think about it, would save taxpayers money--but the ACA isn't about saving money it's about building a larger Democratic voter base--I mean ensuring everyone gets access to quality health care!!). Yet, similar bidding processes for things like road construction, public employee health insurance and lottery administration are all subject to open records laws--how is running a health care exchange any different?
What few details have been fleshed out in the report show the extent of "non-medical" expenses the exchanges will generate. My favorite is $19-million for "marketing". One would think that if people are so desperate for health insurance coverage that you wouldn't need to run a lot of ads telling them it's available. Instead, they would be actively looking for any available program on an almost daily basis.
What's most disappointing is that this secrecy measure was included in the original bill creating California's exchange program back in 2010! Where were the reporters uncovering this coverup back then? They were probably too excited to tell the stories of how "life changing" the Affordable Care Act was going to be for the millions that won't be footing the bill. Or maybe, it was just another of those things that we had to "pass the bill to find out what's in it".
Fortunately, we here in Wisconsin won't have to worry about state government trying to cover up the costs of administering ObamaCare. Governor Walker has told the Federal Government that it can handle all of that exchange work--meaning people in California can help pick up some of that cost as well. At least they will be able to see how that money is being spent in Washington--since they won't be able to at home.