New healthcare system
flawed but can be fixed
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius. Obamacare can be fixed. Click image to enlarge.
NOW THAT ATTENTION has shifted from the disastrous government shutdown, the problems with the rollout of part of the Affordable Care Act reforms are coming into full view.
They had been obscured for three weeks by the idiotic behavior if those who hate the plan the most: Tea Party Republicans.
Indeed, one important part of the system is struggling: the federal insurance exchange web site is groaning under the weight of its popularity.
But there is time to fix it, and officials are working ‘round the clock to do so.
It may be embarrassing to the president, but it is nowhere near the ‘disaster’ so many are claiming.
WE FIRST POINTED out the problems with the Obamacare rollout in Shutdown, debt-ceiling crises obscure really serious problems.
The ‘delicious irony’ was that the GOP’s ridiculous attempt to overturn the law – which failed – had obscured the problems from public view.
The web site healthcare.gov at the center of the storm. Click image to enlarge.
Now, however, they are on the front pages everywhere.
And, of course, the president spoke about them on Monday.
“For the vast majority of Americans… you don’t need to sign up for coverage through a website at all,” Obama said. “You’ve already got coverage. What the Affordable Care Act does for you is to provide you with new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time. You may not know it, but you’re already benefiting from these provisions in the law.”
That’s what the Tea Party does not want anyone to know. They would rather focus on the so-called “disaster.”
The news was not optimistic in The New York Times on Monday, in its story Contractors See Weeks of Work on Health Site.
Sharon Lafraniere, Ian Austen and Robert Pear report:
“Federal contractors have identified most of the main problems crippling President Obama’s online health insurance marketplace, but the administration has been slow to issue orders for fixing those flaws, and some contractors worry that the system may be weeks away from operating smoothly, people close to the project say.”
The New York Times story on Obamacare fixes on Monday. Click image to enlarge.
But, “weeks” to fix the problem is neither unusual nor devastating. The mid-December deadline for enrolling is not cast in concrete; if the system takes longer to fix, it can be rolled back without much ado.
“Some specialists working on the project said the online system required such extensive repairs that it might not operate smoothly until after the Dec. 15 deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting in January, although that view is not universally shared,” the NYT reported.
Almost half a million people already have submitted applications for health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces, about half of them through state exchanges, we learn. That is a good start that can only get better.
OTHER MEDIA REPORTED over the weekend that the administration is throwing enormous resources into fixing the problems.
At the Washington Post, we find the story HealthCare.gov’s glitches prompt Obama to call in more computer experts.
“The Obama administration said Sunday that it has enlisted additional computer experts from across the government and from private companies to help rewrite computer code and make other improvements to the online health insurance marketplace, which has been plagued by technical defects that have stymied many consumers since it opened nearly three weeks ago,” Amy Goldstein reported.
The tech-wizards are making progress.
“This expanded team has come up with new ways of monitoring which parts of the federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, are having problems and has been taking the site offline for rigorous overnight tests, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman.”
The Politico site had details about the tech fixes being made to the healthcare.gov web site. Click image to enlarge.
In addition, on the same day, Politico reported similar details in Tech ‘surge’ to repair Obamacare websites.
Jason Millman reported: “The Obama administration Sunday said it’s called on “the best and brightest” tech experts from both government and the private sector to help fix the troubled website at the root of the Obamacare enrollment problems.”
Going into considerable detail, Millman added:
“The administration said one essential component — the federal data hub — is working as hoped. That hub is crucial. It links federal agencies to determine an applicant’s eligibility for Obamacare coverage and subsidies. States running their own exchanges have to be able to draw on that data as well, and some of them have been doing so successfully.”
Meanwhile, those who will do anything to ensure Obamacare fails took to the airwaves to denounce the teething troubles. They were quoted everywhere.
But they should not be taken seriously.
Almost every project on a scale as vast as implementation of the nationwide healthcare exchanges can be expected to have problems at the start.
In fact, the problems are a sign of Obamacare’s success, not its failure. The demand for health insurance has been so great it overwhelmed the system.
An email received from The White House at 0200 GMT, titled: More than just a web site. Click image to enlarge.
There can be no better evidence that the program – even if flawed – is vitally needed by the American people. They are voting with their keyboards.
The next few weeks will be critical, but the “can-do” approach of the president on Monday is what is needed and what seems to be forthcoming. The problems will be fixed, and come January 1 millions more Americans will have affordable health insurance for the first time.
It is a welcome development.
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