Oct 26 2013

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Obamacare Wheezes to Life

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The solution for Obamacare woes...?

The solution for Obamacare woes…?

How bad was the formal rollout of Obamacare?

So bad that the President of the United States was reduced to pleading with the public  to use 19th century technology – the ballpoint pen and the telephone – as alternatives to healthcare.gov.

Think about that.

The United States invented the computer and the Internet. The combined market capitalization of just four US technology companies that are synonymous with success in this space – Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft – would make them the 13th largest economy in the world ($1.2 trillion). Amazon, which is the American-invented portal that connects almost anyone with almost anything, sold a mind-boggling 302 items per second at the height of 2012.

Yet, with nearly $700 million in taxpayer funds and 1,278 days lead time – and with a national talent pool filled with superb technical analysts and managers experienced in just this kind of development – the Obama administration was simply unable to master even the most basic elements of technology design and implementation.

It represents government incompetence at a level rarely achieved in the nation’s history.

With so much obviously riding on the success of the rollout, you might think that Administration would have taken a more pro-active approach.  Consider that Silicon Valley remains deeply in love with the President.  After passage of Obamacare in 2010, how hard would it have been for the President to reach out to the nation’s titans of technology out West and ask them to help build a healthcare exchange that would rival the best products in the private sector? It would have been a public relations windfall – the President tapping the best and brightest in the service of the American people, creating a product that would be cutting-edge, cost-effective, simple, fast and easy. Such an approach would have helped silence Obama’s critics and perhaps gone a long way to mending the fences of trust with the American people.

But inexplicably, that did not happen.

Instead, a US subsidiary of a Canadian firm, CGI Federal, was awarded a no-bid – no-bid – contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to create Obamacare.  Perhaps the decision would have been better justified if CGI had a track record of extraordinary performance, but a simple look at the record reveals a very troubling history of cost overruns and performance failure. Why on earth would the President and his Heath and Human Services Secretary entrust the execution of his signature accomplishment to such an organization and in such a fashion? It simply defies rational explanation.

So, no matter how much the Administration or their poodles in the Fourth Estate parrot the line that the rollout of Obamacare is nothing more unusual than say, debugging the latest version of the iPhone, the facts speak to something else entirely; cronyism, dereliction and rank incompetence.

And in this context, it is vital to remember that the technical problems of Obamacare, no matter how big or avoidable, are only one dimension of healthcare law’s emerging negative impact. Mainstream Media sources are covering the scandal almost exclusively from a technical angle, at least in part because when the system is fixed – and as the world’s leader in technology these problems will be fixed – the narrative will inevitably shift to a robust computer portal and positive stories from happy enrollees.

Of course that narrative will conveniently miss the staggering damage done to individuals who did nothing more offensive that buy health insurance before Obamacare sprung to life.  Right now, hundreds of thousands of Americans who have individual health care policies are being notified of cancelled insurance coverage (this writer among them)  because of Obamacare diktats.

According to James Capretta, the individual health insurance market in the US has about 19 million policy holders.  Somewhere near 16 million, those who do not have plans that allow for temporary “grandfathering” through November 2014, are going to lose coverage and be forced into the Obamacare exchanges. And when they get there, what these people will find will be dismaying.

According to Capretta’s research, the average family of four will see premiums rise 10-30 percent. A healthy 27-year-old will see an eye-popping increase of between 50-100 percent. And these new plans, in most instances, come with new, higher deductibles, up to $4,000 for the minimum “Bronze” plans.  What rational person will want to pay high monthly premiums for a policy when they may never meet the deductible?

Of course, none of this current chaos factors in what will happen when the employer mandate comes to life on January 1, 2015.  Right now, across the country, companies with more than 50 employees are doing the analysis necessary to decide what is cheaper; to pay the increased costs of group policies under Obamacare, or pay a fine per employee. In most cases, the fine will be cheaper. As a result, about a year from now, just like individual policy holders today, a large cohort of Americans will begin receiving notices that their coverage has been canceled, forcing them into the exchanges and the sticker shock that will result.

And that, in turn, does not factor in the massive distortions to the job market that have been taking place since last year, all in anticipation of the law, with more Americans working part-time and making less, all a result of Obamacare in action.

It is the recipe for an unmitigated social-economic disaster.

Due to this epic policy and management malfeasance, political Washington now finds itself in the most peculiar situation.  For 16 days, Democrats were united in their refusal to consider any Tea Party entreaties to modify Obamacare – notably a one-year delay in the implementation of the Individual Mandate –  in the face of a government shutdown and possible national default. Now, just days after the end of the shutdown, red state Democrats, suddenly aware that the Obamacare “glitches” are only the tip of the iceberg, are fleeing for cover, in some cases embracing the very Tea Party delay proposal that was so unacceptable a few weeks ago.

The irony is thick.

 But as we consider the ramifications of the epic failure of this social policy experimentation, remember that the story starts and ends with President Obama.

The President came to office determined to show America that BIg Government could work, but in practice it has been on failure after another; from the Stimulus to “cash for clunkers,” from tax hikes to business-smothering regulations. The scandalous behavior of federal agencies, be the State Department over Benghazi, the EPA and climate change, the IRS, NLRB – there seems to be no end of government run amok.

The Presisent campaigned on healthcare in ’08. He chose to ram a monstrosity of a bill through Congress, against united Republican opposition and in the face of majority opposition by the American people; the first time in American history that a major social policy was approved without bipartisan support. He defended the law  tenaciously, even as his minions squandered implementation. In the face of a shutdown and default, he refused to discuss even the most minor changes to the law.

Most importantly, in the 15 months leading up to approval of Obamacare and for the three years since – through a SCOTUS review and a national election – the President has promised over and over again that no matter what the changes were to the health insurance industry, if you liked your doctor and your policy, you could keep it under his plan.  Today, that looks like the biggest whopper spoken by an American president since Richard Nixon assured the nation he was not a crook.

Will the American people finally hold this President to account for his conduct?

Elections have consequences people. If you didn’t vote, or your voted for the President, you have no one to blame for this sorry state of affairs but yourselves.

The worst sin in all of this?

It was completely avoidable with a different vote.





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