“As the federal government teetered on the brink of shutdown at the end of last month, the White House and Senate Democrats flatly refused a Republican emergency spending bill that would have kept the government open but delayed ObamaCare’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance by March 31 or face a fine. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded to a GOP counteroffer by saying Republicans had ‘lost their minds.’ But after an epic failure of a launch for the new health insurance entitlement and with the partial shutdown over, ‘delay’ suddenly isn’t a dirty word anymore. With many of those subject to the fine unable to sign up due to manifold botches in the enrollment process, Democrats are warming up to the idea.” —Chris Stirewalt, Delay Suddenly Not a Dirty Word at White House
“For over a year it has been common knowledge within the Obama administration that the Department of Health and Human Services could not launch its network of health exchanges for the Affordable Care Act in a minimally acceptable way. That knowledge did not stop the HHS publicity machine from constantly assuring the American public that its computer systems would be ready for the first enrollment period. That knowledge did not stop carefully scripted HHS employees and contractors from making similar false assurances to two House committees just weeks before the botched October 1 launch.
“As the HHS day of reckoning approached, the publicity machine shifted gears and began acknowledging the likelihood of ‘glitches,’ a brilliant rhetorical technique designed to dismiss all HHS failures as minor and fixable. President Obama echoed this ‘glitches’ theme, and it worked. A mesmerized USA Today, for one, characterized the catastrophic October 1 breakdowns as ‘glitches’ despite ample evidence of meltdowns in the HHS systems. Nobody in Hawaii could access prices for the plans; North Carolina recorded only one policy purchase. The launch has even interfered with the Massachusetts exchange, which functioned well for years prior to being integrated into the HHS systems. The federal exchange was inaccessible for much of the week, and was taken out of service the first weekend for repairs.
“The new HHS talking points assert that the department will quickly fix last week’s failures. Many in Congress and the media are parroting those points, even though almost every prediction HHS has made to date about the exchanges has turned out to be untrue. Its newest assurances are untrue as well.” —Michael Astrue, An Inauspicious Debut
“There are two dates that I want everyone to keep in mind. The first is Thanksgiving weekend. If the glitches in the online exchanges are not adequately de-bugged by that point, I would expect to see panic setting in. The other date to remember is December 15th. That is the last date by which a person can purchase health insurance and have it take effect by January 1st, 2014. If you don’t have insurance by January 1st, then you are subject to the Obamacare penalty tax of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. (Registration for health insurance continues until March 31st, but you will be subject to the penalty tax for not having coverage before that time.) If the online exchanges are not operational enough to handle basic registration, comparison of plans, and purchase of plans, then I would expect that the individual mandate would have to be delayed. The administration would be facing a multitude of lawsuits from eager lawyers who would love to see their names attached to cases and their faces on TV, as they trot out the average person who simply can’t access a website and is going to be fined for someone else’s glitches.” —Deanna Fisher, Obamacare Three Weeks Later: Broken Code, Bad PR, and You Still Have to Buy It
“The greatest risk in the implementation of Obamacare was always adverse selection — that the exchanges would not attract enough young and healthy people to make them economically viable. If there are too many sick people in an insurance system, premiums rise, further discouraging younger, healthier people from participating, resulting in higher premiums, etc. … the insurance ‘death spiral.’
“No one even considered the scenario we are now seeing: a partially working system in which it is difficult to sign up but not impossible. This means that the most motivated consumers (the sickest) are likely to persevere in creating accounts, while the younger and healthier are more likely to skip an unpleasant process and risk a minimal fine. ‘If they don’t get the necessary volume and demographic mix in the exchanges,’ Yuval Levin of National Affairs told me, ‘it could set off a catastrophic adverse selection spiral that would not only render the exchanges inoperable but badly damage our large health care systems.’” —Michael Gerson, Obamacare in Need of a Doctor
“The president’s men (and the ladies) say they’re calling on ‘the best and the brightest’ of Silicon Valley to give the web site a root canal. The Department of Health and Human Services — it’s the ‘human’ part that is the root of the problem — won’t say what’s wrong with the system, only that the web site needs ‘a new code that includes bug fixes.’ Most people say it needs a new health care plan and a new web site. Other computer geeks insist the problem is fundamental, that the designers of the web site used 10-year-old software schemes. Ten years in computer years is a calculation from two centuries back, and for all a computer would know Matthew Brady sent his photographs from Gettysburg on an Apple IIe, working on DOS with only 64 kilobytes. That sounds like the Obamacare site, but how can anyone fix that?
“Nancy Pelosi tried to warn us. She said there were no congressmen who could read the thousands of pages in the bill, but told her colleagues not to worry: ‘We’ll have to pass it to find out what’s in it.’ So Congress passed it, without a worry and without a single Republican vote, and now we’re finally finding out what’s in it.
“Obamacare, which the president says he wants to be the ‘signature’ of his presidency, seems designed to fail, and it’s the signature answer to the question of what’s wrong with Mr. Obama and his presidency. Critics who have been saying he’s dangerous because he’s a Muslim, a socialist, a Kenyan, or an un-American ingrate miss the point by a mile. Mr. Obama may be a Christian patriot who is secretly proud of Confederate forbears on his mother’s side (out of Kentucky through Kansas), but his sin is not alien ideology but native incompetence. The only thing he has done well is organize an administration that reflects the consistent incompetence that underlies everything the administration does. …
“Some of Mr. Obama’s severest critics got one thing right. They say his health care scheme was the work of Marxists, and so it is, writ large by Groucho, Chico and Harpo.” —Wesley Pruden, Dr. Quackenbush’s Health Care Cure
“Forget Hayek, forget Rand, forget even the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the best advertisement for libertarianism ever is ObamaCare.
“No organization, legislation or plan in memory makes a stronger argument for the inferiority of government to the private sector than the black comically named Affordable Care Act. The president himself seemed to realize this when he reached for a private sector comparison to explain ObamaCare’s fumblings and delays by reminding us that even Apple has glitches when it rolls out a new product.
“So it does. But nothing remotely on the level of the ObamaCare website fiasco that still isn’t anywhere near fixed. According to the Miami Herald, ‘Nearly two weeks after the federal government launched the online Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, individuals who have successfully used the choked-up Website to enroll for a subsidized health insurance plan have reached a status akin to urban legend.’
“Government sources report as few as 51,000 completed applications for ObamaCare in the first week. At least seven million must sign up for the program to stay afloat financially.
“This, after months of preparation, for a website that cost approximately 100 million dollars. Apple CEO Tim Cook would be out on his derriere faster than you could say Kathleen Sebelius for anything resembling such ineptitude.” —Roger L. Simon, Obamacare Best Advertisement for Libertarianism Ever
“The Washington Post humorously describes Obama’s loony press conference as ‘a consumer-friendly defense of the health care law.’ Rubbish. It was a desperate hard-Left politician appropriating the language of capitalism to conceal another failure of authoritarian anti-capitalism. Obama drops language about shops full of goods, cash registers, cell-phone bills, and products without a shred of their honest meaning. ObamaCare is not a ‘shop,’ the shelves are not filled with ‘products,’ and customers are not checking out with a basket full of freely-chosen goods. Wal-Mart can’t sic the IRS on you to extract a tax/penalty if you decide not to buy something.
“Another thing Obama didn’t do at his Monday press conference was apologize for the many false statements he made during the bungled ObamaCare rollout, especially the ridiculous and often-repeated lie that Healthcare.gov was melting under unexpectedly high demand. It’s never experienced traffic greater than mid-level commercial sites handle every day of the week, and it’s still not working today, even though the traffic has decreased by an amazing ninety percent since launch day. And Obama knew the stupid thing crashed under the load of just a few hundred users during testing! None of these frauds ever seriously thought the big problem with HealthCare.gov was an amazingly large stampede of eager customers, but they said it over and over again. …
“If ObamaCare was a private industry product, jury selection for both criminal charges and civil lawsuits would already be under way. Which is one very good reason why such things should always be left to private industry, not swarms of politicians and rent-seeking cronies with a death grip on our wallets. At least the Hindenburg disaster wasn’t passed off as a minor glitch caused by an unexpectedly popular blimp, with assurances that many of the passengers greatly enjoyed the better part of their flight.” —John Hayward, The Administration Knew Healthcare.gov Would Be a Disaster
“The cost of Obamacare system development thus far, according to Digital Trends, has been over $500 million. … Subtracting a generous 20% off the top for hardware and other equipment, the cited cost to date means that the government has spent about $400 million on programmers. That’s the equivalent of spending $100 per hour on an army of 1,000 programmers for two full years. What in the world has everyone been doing?
“To add insult to injury, the administration outsourced the building of this costly contraption to CGI Group, a Canadian firm. CGI, whose U.S. operations are based in Northern Virginia, ‘just so happened’ to increase the number of H-1B visas it requested from 172 in 2011 to 299 in 2012. It seems more than a little likely that the Obamacare project gave jobs to foreigners while needlessly leaving fully dozens or perhaps even hundreds of qualified citizen IT professionals on the unemployment line.
“It gets even worse. CGI was ‘officially terminated in September 2012 by an Ontario government health agency after the firm missed three years of deadlines and failed to deliver the province’s flagship online medical registry.’ Surely someone in the Washington government-media complex knew that CGI had gotten the boot in Ontario. Yet somehow this was never news in the U.S. Oh, I forgot. That was less than two months before the presidential election, and there was a blackout on anything not directly involved in trashing Mitt Romney or anyone who might dare support or vote for him.
“Obamacare’s enrollment system blowup is all anyone should need to justify delaying the individual mandate for a year to give developers — hopefully news ones — one last chance to get their act together. Or, far better, to give the American people one last chance to elect a Congress and Senate which will do everything it can to end this debacle once and for all.” —Tom Blumer, Obamacare: Mind-Boggling Incompetence
“The website’s super-busted, and is likely to remain that way for some time. But you know that already, and so does President Obama — which is why he channeled the ShamWow guy during his surreal Obamacare pep rally earlier this week, pumping an 800-number as an alternative to the online exchanges. Operators are standing by, and all that. At least it’s something, right? Well, the Washington Post’s liberal Wonk Blog notices a small problem with Obama’s old-fashioned Plan B. It doesn’t work either. … You can ring up the Obamacare hotline, pray to get an actual person on the line, and submit an application. But you cannot actually enroll. …
“Basically, the call centers ultimately rely on the busted computer system, too. Plus, it’s pretty much impossible to ‘browse’ various options and prices over the phone. Yet the president directed millions of Americans to dial the 1-800 number, assuring them that they could speak with an agent and sign up in less than 30 minutes.” —Guy Benson, Surprise: Obamacare’s 1-800 Number Doesn’t Work Either
“The Byzantine world of health care prices today—good luck finding out what a hospital procedure actually costs—will grow steadily worse under the new world of Obamacare. I have called what is happening a great ‘re-learning’ of Hayek’s lesson about why attempts to command complex economic phenomena are inherently doomed to fail, but most liberals never learned this lesson in the first place. The increasing difficulties of Obamacare will be taken as proof that we need to go all the way to single-payer health care. Sen. Harry Reid has already suggested that the patchwork scheme that is Obamacare is just a halfway house on the way to single-payer, as did a little known Illinois state senator named Barack Obama more than a decade ago.
“For liberals, failure is just another reason for expanding regulatory reach further—a variation of ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.’ This has been the story of roughly the last hundred years for the most part. With only a few limited exceptions (like transportation and energy deregulation), the patterns has been for government failures to beget new government failures—a pattern that has become known as the ‘ratchet effect.’ The great question of Obamacare is whether we’ve finally reached the point at which the ratchet wrench of ever-bigger government will snap.” —Steven F. Hayward, The Obamacare Rollout Debacle
“It was a little odd that the president kept referring to those with pre-existing conditions at his Rose Garden appearance. He doesn’t need to persuade them. The sick and uninsured have the strongest incentive to weather the failures, frustrations and long wait times on HealthCare.gov. It’s those who are being asked to purchase a product they don’t think they need – the young and healthy – who will be deterred by the crashing website. After the second or third abortive attempt, to say nothing of the 30th, they are likely to choose to pay the fine rather than sign up, particularly since the fine, at least in 2014, is low.
“The fines rise steeply in 2015 and beyond though, which may force the young to confront the fact that they were promised a shiny new benefit – free healthcare – and are actually just transferring wealth (again) to others. They may not have recognized it when they pulled the lever for Obama in 2012 but young people were voting to tax themselves even more for the benefit of those who are already better off than they.” —Mona Charen, Don’t Let Obamacare Crisis Go to Waste
“It might already be too late to save ObamaCare, and not just because of the looming mandate deadlines. This whole scheme relied on peer pressure to work. Obama needed triumphant news stories at the one-month mark, relating happy thumbs-up from a large number of satisfied customers. That’s the only way to bully Americans into thinking the program is here to stay – they have to believe a lot of people like it, and would be very unhappy if it were taken away.
“The Young Invincibles are thought to be very susceptible to such cultural pressures. The pressure cooker is broken. Soon we might start seeing grim business projections from health insurance companies that cannot survive without the estimated 2.7 million healthy young revenue sources they anticipated. The first few months after ObamaCare launch are a trap. The whole thing will fall apart if too many people escape.” —John Hayward, Obamacare: Bad News for the Young Invincibles
A trip down memory lane: Remember when the Chicago Charlatan said this?
Actually, you might be able to keep your plan… as long as you don’t mind paying twice as much for it:
Scott, Bill, and Steve ask: Is Obama bored… or just incompetent?
For further enlightenment:
Obamacare User Guide, by Planet Moron
Circling the Obamacare Wagons, by John Hayward
Unions Turn on Obamacare, but Don’t Call Them Hypocrites, by Michael Barone
More entertaining videos for readers with time to kill and/or unpleasant tasks to avoid: