What If the Exchanges Aren’t Ready?

This is from my column today in The Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration wants something the federal government has never done before: a computer system that connects HHS, the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security and perhaps other departments as well. This is a herculean task with unclear benefits. For perspective, consider that the Veterans Administration converted to electronic medical records in 1998 and the VA and the Department of Defense have been unsuccessfully trying to share records ever since. Even though they have spent millions of dollars on the effort, it now appears that the two agencies are abandoning the goal altogether.

Comments (12)

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  1. Lloyd says:

    Information sharing between federal agencies and other groups can have benefits, but they need to be realistic about so many of them sharing with all the red tape and financial costs.

  2. Z says:

    It would be amazing if the federal government could operate efficiently. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the federal government can act effectively.

  3. Johnny says:

    “Even though they have spent millions of dollars on the effort, it now appears that the two agencies are abandoning the goal altogether.”

    – Wait, so the government needs to spend millions of dollars to figure out that they cant do something? Sounds efficient.

  4. Wasif says:

    The reason why the VA abandoned this project is because they continuously lacked human capital to manage such intricate networks. Plus, the veterans weren’t using the EMR in part because of rural isolation and lack of infrastructure providing the services.

  5. Overmind says:

    I think the Obama administration is trying to connect all these systems because of the volume of data that can be generated. Ultimately, this is the holy grail for researchers right?

  6. Zeratul says:

    @ Overmind

    Yes connecting all those systems may be the holy grail, but your are going to need a lot of highly skilled technical people to manage the system.

  7. Huda says:

    We better be rushing to get a data mining degree or certification!

  8. Patel says:

    Let’s not forget that the reason why the VA didn’t work out effectively is because they lack the human capital to manage the system. As it stands, they lack the human capital to manage the IRS. How in the world can they manage to pull this off?

  9. Desai says:

    You know, we can always import the IT talent from mother land India!

  10. Raiden says:

    Actually, I have a strong feeling that the exchanges won’t be ready, as of now, Maryland is the only one that is ready. Just one!

  11. Fann says:

    This does not have a bright outlook, especially since it’s such a big undertaking including technology and government…not the best mix.

  12. Tim says:

    Not quite clear how the feds are planning on implementing such a big IT undertaking. Just not enough details.