Whenever you hear government apologists claim that budgets can’t be cut lest the poor wither and die in the street, remind them that the federal government and the state of Hawaii effectively just set $235 million ablaze. The state’s Obamacare insurance exchange will be shuddered this month after failing to attract enough enrollees to become financially viable. From Americans for Tax Reform:
While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached.
Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals – meaning it spent almost $23,899 on its website for each individual enrolled. Currently over 37,000 individuals are enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange – well below the estimated 70,000 enrollees that is required to make the website financially viable. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to hand out an additional $30 million so that Hawaii can migrate to the federal system.
That’s fundamentally no different from lighting a huge stack of money on fire. At least The Dark Knight’s Joker had the decency to only burn his half.
Think of it, $235 million that came out of household budgets and business accounts, $235 million that won’t go into investments or be spent supporting businesses and funding jobs. It’s a scandal for which no one anywhere will apparently pay a price, just the taxpayers who already have.