Obamacare woes beyond glitches
By STEVE HUNTLEY October 24, 2013 5:22PM
Updated: November 26, 2013 6:24AM
Now that Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party-inspired government shutdown aren’t distracting the nation’s attention, Americans are seeing the flaws of Obamacare and even the usually White House-friendly mainstream media are besieging the administration with tough questions about the spectacularly disastrous rollout of the health-care law.
“Glitches” and “kinks” are the words President Barack Obama and his allies use to describe the colossal failure of the HealthCare.gov website. To many ears, that must sound almost as delusional as the Cruz assertion that closing down the government would force Democrats to end funding of the Affordable Care Act.
When the debut of Obamacare is being ridiculed by liberal comedian Jon Stewart, you know you have more than “glitches” and “kinks.” When visits to the federal government’s Internet portal for Obamacare plunge 88 percent, it’s reasonable to conclude that HealthCare.gov is in a “Houston, we’ve got a problem” moment. When the Democratic consensus behind Obamacare starts to crack with calls for changes to the law, you know things are bad.
It was less than reassuring to hear the contractors who only a month ago told Congress the website launch would go smoothly tell those same lawmakers Thursday that the problems would be fixed soon.
Obamacare defenders asserted that the last entitlement expansion, the Medicare Part D drug plan, got off to a rocky start with its Internet site. True, but that was eight years ago and you’d think the bureaucrats would have learned from that experience. That program had a captive audience, seniors needing help to buy prescription drugs. Obamacare also has sick and older Americans anxious to buy insurance. But its success depends on a buy-in from millions of healthy young people who must be persuaded, cajoled or forced by a fine to buy insurance to fund the coverage for the sick and old. When young adults finally get to browse the website, they may suffer sticker shock seeing what they have to pay for a high-deductable policy to underwrite the success of Obamacare.
The website failure hasn’t been the only problem for Obamacare. Kaiser Health News reports that hundreds of thousands of Americans have seen their insurance policies canceled because they don’t comply with the mandates of the new law. Some may get better deals under Obamacare but others will be forced to buy more expensive policies, the agency reported. So much for Obama’s promise that if you like your current insurance, you can keep it.
The New York Times reports that, contrary to the law’s promise of more competition, 58 percent of the nation’s counties will see plans offered by only one or two companies. Those places, mostly small towns and rural areas and often poor, will be “asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans,” says the Times.
A partisan law passed with only Democratic votes and without critical scrutiny was bound to be deeply flawed, and it was only a matter of time before the defects would become obvious. Now the question is how much time does the administration have to repair this website before its failure inflicts a crippling political blow to Obamacare?