By Elise Viebeck - 09/24/14 04:47 PM EDT
The total price tag for ObamaCare's main enrollment portal now stands at more than $2 billion, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg Government.
The new total, released Wednesday, includes efforts to construct and then fix HealthCare.gov after serious technical problems threatened to shutter the site last fall.
The figures are significantly higher than estimates by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House. Bloomberg Government uses a proprietary database of federal contracts to come up with its numbers.
"Whether policymakers and the public judge the $73-billion-plus tab for health reform reasonable or exorbitant may ultimately turn on what's used as the measuring stick," wrote senior healthcare analyst Peter Gosselin.
"Measured against the development costs for the F-35 joint strike fighter [$54.9 billion], the Defense Department's single most expensive weapons system, the tab for the healthcare effort can seem quite high," he continued.
"Measured against the U.S. healthcare industry that the administration seeks to overhaul, however, the costs of the reform effort appear tiny."
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell recently pegged the cost for HealthCare.gov at just over $1 billion through fiscal 2015.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pushed back against the Bloomberg analysis, citing instead savings for consumers under the health law.
"The GAO, HHS’s Inspector General and the Department all measured the cost of Marketplace-related IT contracts for HealthCare.gov. But this report measures different things, and not surprisingly, produces a different number,” said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright in a statement.
“The fact is expenditures related to the Affordable Care Act are publicly available and widely known, but what’s also known is just how much it’s saving — $9 billion for consumers and billions more for reductions in uncompensated care, among other savings for the American people,” he added.
“CMS takes its responsibility for spending taxpayer dollars seriously. That's why we've moved aggressively to implement extensive contracting reforms, bringing in new leadership to oversee Marketplace operations, hiring a systems integrator, and ending our largest contract with CGI and moving to a new type of contract with Accenture that rewards performance.”
But lawmakers critical of the healthcare law seized on the report.
"Two billion dollars is an awful lot to pay for a website with lingering security issues that transfers the costs of healthcare from customers to taxpayers,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in a statement.
“If this were private enterprise, the CEO would have been fired and company shareholders would be suing,” he added. “But in this Administration, there's no high level accountability and the focus remains fixated on signing up as many Americans as possible regardless of the cost, the security risks, or the impact on the quality of healthcare for all Americans."
The Bloomberg analysis found that other parts of the rollout are coming in under spending projections.
Premium subsidies on the exchanges are being paid out at a "far slower pace" than was forecast, Gosselin wrote. The credits will total about $15 billion for fiscal 2014, just 40 percent of what the administration predicted it would spend in February.
This story was updated at 6:44 p.m.