Massachusetts: "It's Fixed!" insists Gov. Patrick

A couple of weeks ago there was a rather absurd-sounding report from a right-wing outlet called "The Pioneer Institute" which claimed that the Massachusetts Health Connector (their ACA exchange site) was going to cost over $1.1 billion over a 2-year period. I didn't really address it at the time, mainly because regardless of the disastrous experience of the MA exchange, that number just didn't seem grounded in reality. Sure enough, it turns out that estimate was about four times too high:

BOSTON - With the next open enrollment period set for Nov. 15, Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday said the state's troubled health care exchange website is fixed, at a cost of an additional $26 million to the state, bringing the federal and state total to $254 million in information technology costs.

...Consumers who log onto the Health Care Connector website will have a "full end-to-end shopping experience" for health plans on Nov. 15, Patrick said.

"With the full functionality of the website for small businesses, which has continued without issue, Massachusetts consumers will be able to shop for, and enroll in, all available Connector health plans online this fall," Patrick added.

FWIW, that "$1.1 billion" figure came from lumping in a bunch of stuff which isn't really part of the actual cost of the exchange itself, along with some flat-out garbage; for instance:

Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor, who chairs the Health Connector board, suggested the Pioneer report is “full of double counting and errors,” pointing as an example to one line-item listed for $105 million to pay new IT vendor Optum that was a revised contract estimate presented at a board meeting, not a new expense.

The administration also took issue with Archambault not differentiating between federal and state tax dollars and using charts in the report that compare two years of Connector costs to single years of spending on public health, early education, housing and economic development.

...Shor also said the federal government has reimbursed the state for 50 percent of the cost of insuring over 300,000 residents on temporary Medicaid coverage until they can be placed in final plans, and MassHealth remained within budget for fiscal 2014 despite the unanticipated program.

Y'know, the reality of the MA Health Connector was already enough of an Epic Fail; there was no reason to exaggerate the mess further.

In any event, supposedly Massachusetts has finally gotten it right. Let's hope so.