HealthCare.gov: A symptom of the problem

WP_20141025_002

WP_20141025_002

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Too much, too soon, with not enough. Oh, and it’s the wrong solution, too. President Obama rolled out the new Healthcare website, hoping it would be greeted with pomp and circumstance, only to be red-faced with the reality that his golden boy website of his poster-child bill greeted much of the public with nothing other than an error message.

In what has become nothing short of an extremely public debacle, president Obama has clearly wilted in the combined blistering heat of the Republican congress and an ever-inquisitive press. Passed over three and a half years ago, the execution of the woefully long and fiercely debated law has finally begun, and president Obama is probably having nightmares.

It is no secret that HealthCare.gov, the website where people can register for and gather information about the new healthcare under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as Obamacare, has experienced a multitude of technical problems and glitches which have prevented a large portion of the population from using the site. While it is, of course, troubling whenever any government site of consequence has glitches in its design and execution, it is especially poignant at a time like this.

The PPACA is widely viewed by Republicans, Democrats, and just about everyone else as the signature ‘achievement’ of president Obama. USA Today went so far as to say about the problems with HealthCare.gov that the prolonged effort to fix the website puts president Obama’s legacy in danger. While that argument does a terrible job of assessing the success of a presidency, it would also be foolhardy to ignore the point it is trying to make. The initial failure of the website is unwelcome news, to say the least, to Obama’s ears.

The failure of the website, much like a fever, is a symptom of the problem. Obamacare has been met with no small degree of resistance, with much of the initial opposition coming from Republicans. Now that HealthCare.gov has gotten off to a very rocky start, even Democrats have begun to call for delays to implement the new law. In one respect, it is unfortunate that the law is being tied to Obama’s legacy, but then again, Obama has fought for it to such a degree that he clearly views it as at least an integral part of his legacy. That may have been a fatal mistake for number forty-four; tying one’s legacy to a single law makes attacking that legacy that much easier.

Obamacare came as an unwelcome sweeping change for the healthcare and health insurance landscape at a time when the United States was and still is recovering from the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression and fighting skirmishes and small wars across the globe. The only thing that could have worsened the situation was an error-ridden and shoddy implementation of the reform. Thankfully, the president would never have allowed such a thing.