Updated: January 11, 2014 6:14AM
You wonder how he could say it with a straight face, but President Barack Obama did: The bungled launch of the government’s program to micromanage the American health care system was the fault of, ahem, government inefficiency.
Obama summed up the Obamacare website problem by complaining that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.”
Five years into his presidency Obama has the revelation that the government he promised Americans was up to the job of overhauling the vastly complicated insurance market didn’t have an agency in the form of the Department of Health and Human Services that was, well, up to the job.
In his interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Obama went on to say that “the more we can just reorganize the guts of how these agencies work, the easier it’s going to be, because the White House is just a tiny part of what is a huge, widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world.”
Obama has just three years to rework the innards of the government charged with implementing his policies. Perhaps his long learning curve reflects his background as a community organizer and legislator, i.e., he’s never actually had to run anything other than a political campaign. That’s a lot different than delivering services to the public.
Still, Obama insisted the problem wasn’t his “management style.” That’s debatable. But the issue is more than that — like broken promises. After millions of insurance policies were canceled, we learned that his famous pledge that if you like your health policy, you can keep it, really meant that if the government likes your insurance, you can keep it.
Now, Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of the details of the Affordable Care Act, has explained what Obama really meant by his promise that if you like your doctor, you can keep her. He told Fox News, “People are going to have a choice as to whether they want to pay a certain amount for a selective network or pay more for a broader network.” In other words, if you like your doctor, you can keep her — if you’re willing to pay for more expensive insurance.
The costs of Obamacare are piling up on the middle class.
The website is finally working, but problems remain about whether Healthcare.gov is getting all of the right information to insurance companies. Still, the White House declared success and launched a public relations campaign about people benefiting from Obamacare.
No doubt there will be many, mostly older and sicker Americans. One unresolved issue is whether enough younger people will buy insurance on the exchanges and be willing to pay higher prices to underwrite the care of older Americans.
Although the government reports that unemployment has fallen to 7 percent, joblessness remains much higher for young Americans. Maybe that and Obamacare’s broken promises explain why a Harvard poll found that fewer than a third of Americans 18-29 planned to buy insurance.
Time’s running out to “reorganize the guts” of government — as if that will be enough to paper over the burdens and costs this “affordable” law imposes on middle-class Americans.