Editorial: Obamacare shoots itself in the foot

By Rob Nikolewski on November 3, 2013
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The 1988 Baltimore Orioles are off the hook.

It can no longer be said that those bad birds, who , suffered the worst start ever.

That ignominy is now reserved for the rollout of the website for the Affordable Care Act.

Rob Nikolewski. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe New Mexican/Clyde Mueller.

Despite three years of preparation at a , has been unable to process the individual accounts of Americans who have been directed – or to use another word, commanded – to get health insurance under what has been colloquially called Obamacare.

President Obama may have won the White House twice with campaigns priding themselves on being tech-savvy but when it has come to overseeing a website dealing with an industry that makes up one-sixth of the U.S. economy, healthcare.gov has been ridiculously retro.

Remember ?

To make matters worse, on the very day that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was grilled before Congress, . Again.

It’s unfathomable that Obama has been caught off-guard. After all, the ACA is his signature piece of legislation. He rammed it through Congress without a single Republican vote.

Back in January in his , “It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government.”

So far, the ACA sure has been bigger government but there’s no evidence it’s any smarter.

In general, partisan politics is largely based on optics and scoring debating points. But every so often, an issue comes up that cuts through all that.

The health care law is one of those issues because of the sheer number of people it affects.

, President Obama said: “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

But millions of people have had to change their individual policies in order to meet the more robust requirements of the ACA – and that includes at least 63,900 people in New Mexico.

that the Obama administration knew three years ago that 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

On the same day, House Democrat “We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify, and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage.”

With millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, if people discover they don’t like what they’re offered, there will be a steep political price to pay.

Defenders say that despite the tech screw-ups, people will end liking the new law over time.

But it’s almost impossible to find out what changes have been made to an individual policy when you can’t log onto the website in the first place.

Obama has long believed that government is a force for good but should the law — that essentially has his name stamped on it — fail, that liberal notion will suffer a body blow.

And that makes his detachment leading up to the roll out of the ACA so stunning.

You’d think the CEO would be checking on the site’s progress on a regular basis to ensure that its debut would go as flawlessly as possible.

Sebelius, Obama and Co. have tried to explain that there still is time for the site to get straightened out.

But you have to wonder: if the website is having trouble handling traffic now, how will it fare when traffic will spike? After all, in order for coverage to take effect by Jan. 1, – less than six weeks from now.

In addition, the entire system can only work if (you need the young and healthy in the pool to subsidize the older and sicker).

If a young person has been rebuffed after attempts to log onto , it’s easy to think those who have grown up buying things on Amazon with no problems will simply write off the clunky health care site, pay the $95 penalty for not signing up and move on with their lives.

Things can change but right now, Obamacare is in the intensive care unit – not because of its critics but due to self-inflicted wounds.

(This column originally ran in the .)

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