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Healthcare Pork

5:36 PM, Nov 14, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Obamacare’s woes seem to have come as a surprise to many in Washington. Wait, you mean people actually won’t be able to keep their insurance? Quick, pass a law.

And: The website isn’t working?  Why wasn’t I told.  Get a team on it and set a new deadline.  Why do I have to think of everything.

What doesn’t surprise and, in fact, should have been completely predictable is that like any big government program (and this one is really big) there are what G.W. Plunkitt called “opportunities.”  And there are some who, understandably, “took them."

WebMD, for instance.  This outfit is known chiefly for a site where you can go if you are feeling poorly, key in the symptoms and be helpfully told that you should go see a doctor.  Cutting edge stuff.

As reported by Jim McElhatton of the Washington Times, WebMD got a cool $4.8 million from the government which it did not believe:

… it had an obligation to disclose to its broad consumer base …

The site did some light cheerleading for Obamacare, which probably did not move any needles in one direction or another.  But WebMD certainly did not do anything to alert visitors to the site about any looming problems with the Affordable Care Act.  Probably it didn’t know.  Possibly it didn’t care.  Conceivably, it knew but because it was being paid, it kept silent.  Five million will buy a lot of that.

And, also, as noted in the breakdown of where the money went.  

• As much as $126,826 for a single 5,000-word review article on scientific advances in a clinical topic.

• Up to $68,916 for a four-minute video from an opinion specialist.

• More than $140,000 for an eight-question online quiz.

If the government was throwing money around that way, easy to understand how WebMD saw its opportunities and took them.

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