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Massachusetts pioneered Obamacare — and is still struggling to make it work

Joe Raedle / Getty News Images

Maybe the second time will be the charm.

Massachusetts announced Friday that it will try to rehabilitate the Health Connector, its broken health exchange, rather than switch onto Healthcare.gov, the Boston Globe reported. More from the Globe:

An off-the-shelf system, adapted for Massachusetts by Virginia-based hCentive, passed muster with the federal government at a meeting late Thursday, Maydad Cohen, a special advisor to the governor who is overseeing the project, said in a conference call with reporters Friday morning.

Massachusetts had one of the most challenged Obamacare launches of any state, which was surprising given that it was the place that pioneered universal coverage. The website barely worked for the entire open enrollment period and, into 2014, Massachusetts had a backlog of more than 75,000 applications. It had to set up special, short-term plans for residents who tried, and failed, to purchase coverage online.

"They had a website up and running and there might have been some thinking like, 'How much more difficult can this be?'" says John McDonough, a Harvard professor who worked on both the Massachusetts and federal reform laws. (He is not affiliated with the Connector.) "It was a bigger leap from the pre-ACA site to the ACA site and some people might have underestimated the challenge."