... [T]here’s no more money coming from Washington after [California] exhausts the $1.1 billion it received from the federal government to get the Obamacare exchange up and running. And state law prohibits Sacramento from spending any money to keep the exchange afloat.
That presents an existential crisis for Covered California, which is facing a nearly $80 million budget deficit for its 2015-16 fiscal year. Although the exchange is setting aside $200 million to cover its near-term deficit, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee acknowledged in December that there are questions about the “long-term sustainability of the organization.”
Mr. Lee’s disquieting assessment actually jibed with a 2013 report by the state auditor, which stated that, until the state’s health insurance exchange actually started enrolling Californians in health plans, its “future solvency” was ”uncertain.” Thus, Covered California was listed as a “high-risk” issue for the state.
The state auditor’s warning appeared prescient as of Feb. 15, which was supposed to be the close of open enrollment for 2015: Covered California had fallen 300,000 enrollees short of the goal set by Mr. Lee and the agency’s board of directors.
Indeed, Covered California’s enrollment growth for 2015 was a mere 1 percent, according to a study this month by Avalere Health. That was worst than all but two other state exchanges. Meanwhile, California’s Obamacare exchange managed to retain only 65 percent of previous enrollees, the nation’s fourth-lowest re-enrollment rate....