Daily Meme: Obamacare's Oops Moment

  • The Affordable Care Act's debutante party has been somewhat of a disaster. 
  • Somehow, even the calculators on the website where people are supposed to sign up for the legislation's health-care exchanges are broken. Calculators!
  • In a Rose Garden address yesterday, Obama said no one was "madder than [him]" about his signature legislative achievement’s technical snafus, but also reminded the country that "we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a Web site."
  • Although the White House did learn a valuable lesson. If you're unveiling a big, shiny new thing and days before its debut it crashes horribly, you should probably delay its release. 
  • More money would have helped too.
  • Republicans are starting to call for Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelieus's head (Here's a preview of the questioning she's likely to face in her hearing before Congress later this month.
  • The White House is calling in every programmer they can find to try and fix the website's glitches before Thanksgiving—including Verizon and many other of our "best-and-brightest" technical minds.
  • The problems they face? Rewriting as many as five million lines of code in the next few weeks. 
  • But, despite the mess, hundreds of thousands of people are still interested in signing up for Obamacare. If the website gets fixed soon, the program's problems may be forgotten by January 1. 
  • And, views on the Affordable Care Act haven't plummeted or skyrocketed since October 1. Nope, they've stayed exactly the same. This could still go either way politically and policy-wise. 
  • And, this could have been way worse. 
  • Going forward, what is the nightmare scenario? According to Ezra Klein, if "the web site continues to be a mess through the fall. As such, only the people who need insurance most—older, sicker people—go through the trouble of signing up. Younger, healthier people come once or twice and then never again. The risk pools fill with more expensive applicants and, in year two, premiums spike. The result is that, 12 months from now, Obamacare has a working web site, but a more costly, less appealing, product.
  • Delaying the individual mandate would also be ... not so good for the law's future health. 
  • At this stage of the game though, all we ask for is a working website. After that, we get to the good part—judging the health-care exchanges actual efficacy!


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