Why did the Tomblin administration pay $860,000 for an out-of-state study into ObamaCare choices that should have been obvious?
And why is the administration concealing a "work plan" for the study, which failed to meet its deadline?
As we understand it, here's the situation:
President Obama's historic 2010 Affordable Care Act allows states to create "exchanges" through which families can choose medical insurance -- and also allows states to expand Medicaid to cover families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
We think both those steps are excellent, and should have been adopted easily. After all, 20 states and the District of Columbia already have adopted the Medicaid expansion, and others are likely. The expansion would bring health coverage to perhaps 150,000 "working poor" West Virginians, almost entirely at federal expense.
However, last summer, at the request of legislators, the administration hired CCRC Actuaries of Maryland to study "all aspects of planning and feasibility of a West Virginia Health Benefit Exchange." Later, Medicaid expansion was added to the contract. Federal funds paid for the research. The CCRC report was promised for January, but it hasn't yet been delivered. The tab is $860,000.
In February, Gov. Tomblin announced that West Virginia will create a health-care exchange in partnership with the federal government. That apparently settles one question assigned to the Maryland researchers. Medicaid expansion remains undecided.
Jeremiah Samples of the state insurance commissioner's office told the Daily Mail last week that the work plan for the CCRC study cannot be released to the public because it's "an internal planning document that includes some information that may be sensitive to private insurers."
Wait a minute. Taxpayers are coughing up $860,000 for this project, but they're not allowed to learn details of the project? The Statehouse shouldn't hide such information from West Virginians.
As we said, both the state insurance exchange and the Medicaid expansion are clear public benefits that should have been adopted with little debate. We don't know why a long study was required. And we don't know why a cloak of secrecy is being wrapped around the study's details.