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“Obamacare’s problems go much deeper than the Web site”

by | Oct 25, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Executives from four contractors came before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday to try to reconcile what they said as recently as September about the health insurance exchanges—everything was hunky dory and on track—and the fiasco of the last three+ weeks.

Executives from four contractors came before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday to try to reconcile what they said as recently as September about the health insurance exchanges—everything was hunky dory and on track—and the fiasco of the last three+ weeks.

Pick you metaphor, although rats abandoning the sinking ship is the one that comes immediately to mind but should probably be rejected.

Since October 1 every day has brought another series of embarrassing revelations about the rollout of ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges. And some of THE most uncritical supporters/boosters of President Obama are asking aloud, what next?

Here are just two examples, of many.

David Gregory is host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Appearing on “Morning Joe” this morning, Gregory said the following:

“I think we have to take a step back at the end of the week and ask the most critical question: is ObamaCare doomed if they can’t fix this fast?

“I raise this very provocative question for two reasons. It is this caricature of incompetence that could be associated with ObamaCare for a long time because of such a bad start; and two, the very real fact that they’ve got this limited window to get younger, healthier people enrolled if the whole system is going to work.”

Ezra Klein is so in the tank for President Obama he makes Gregory look like a fiery critic. But his Washington Post column is headlined, “Sorry liberals, Obamacare’s problems go much deeper than the Web site.” (He is talking about fellow liberals, as will become obvious.) His opening is devastating, both for who it comes from and what it says:

“There’s been a rash of commentary from some on the left who’ve decided that the real problem with Obamacare isn’t the crippling technological issues that have made it impossible for almost anyone to enroll in the federally run health-insurance exchanges but the media’s coverage of those problems.

“It’s not the crime, it’s the lack of a cover-up.”

Klein begins by gently disagreeing with an implied (when not explicit) premises: journalists of a certain persuasion ought to defend ObamaCare, come what may. He then takes on the notion that the “media” is exaggerating the problems with the Healthgov.org website. You can read his column at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/25/obamacares-problems-go-much-deeper-than-the-web-site, so let me quickly summarize a couple of points.

Klein, correctly, understands that part of the reason what’s going on is not being properly reported is a failure of language: “’The Web site’ has become a confusing stand-in phrase for any problem relating to the law’s underlying infrastructure.” Finding all the problems is likely digging a well. Only the further down you go, the more likely you are to find not oil but additional layers of sand and rock.

Klein writes

“As Sarah Kliff and I wrote in our overview of the health-care launch’s technical issues, the challenges right now can be grouped into three broad categories: problems with the consumer experience on the HealthCare.gov Web site, problems with the eligibility system, and problems with the hand-off to insurers.”

Go the column and read it in its entirety. Here’s his conclusion (Maxwell and Walsh are two critics of the media for pointing out all the problems):

“Maxwell and Walsh seem to think there’s something false about members of the press trying to run through HealthCare.gov and the call center themselves. But this is actually a profound benefit of Obamacare’s digital architecture: The fact that member of the press can learn how unworkable the site is and see that the call center often drops your call or leaves you with staffers who can’t help makes it likelier that the government will be under continuous pressure to elevate the level of service.”

Categories: ObamaCare
Tags: ObamaCare