September 27 2013
Dust off the fax machine. Delays in the availability of online enrollment may call for other, more creative ways to sign up for ObamaCare.
The headlines this morning are full of fodder for those who think ObamaCare should be delayed, defunded, opted out of or invalidated.
We’ve posted countless stories about the philosophical and practical problems with the President’s signature healthcare law. Whichever side you fall on, the delays, sweetheart deals for certain constituencies and security risks that it poses ought to give you pause –and you’re not alone.
The past two days have added a couple more to the growing list of embarrassments and delays for the Administration:
* Small business enrollment has been delayed for at least a month
* Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov will not be ready for enrollment for weeks
Hispanic groups were told Wednesday that the Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov will not be ready for online enrollments for weeks. This is a blow to the Administration’s enrollment day plans. Hispanics represent an important constituency for ObamaCare since they make up about one-third of the estimated 47 million uninsured people in the country.
And they are none too pleased. The health care policy director for the National Council of La Raza, one of the most powerful Hispanic groups in the country, expressed her frustration:
"It's been at least two years since we've known that Latinos are a primary target for enrollment through the Affordable Care Act, so we would have hoped that the administration would have the rollout ready on Day 1.”
In other comments she adds:
“This type of delay can undermine enrollment efforts, so we think they need to do everything in their power to get this up and running as soon as possible. There's been such a fever pitch around October 1 that we don't want people walking away thinking there's nothing for them."
Small businesses (employers with 50 or fewer workers) also got hit in the gut with news that because of technical problems they will not be able to sign up their staff up for private insurance in federally operated exchanges for another month. Here’s the not-so-funny punch line: the ObamaCare planners want them to fax in written forms.
For such a technologically-forward Administration this is an embarrassment. I wonder how many small businesses actually have still have fax machines. Remember we’re talking about your local coffee shop, corner or thrift store as well as the grocery stores, restaurants, and companies.
Business groups aren’t laughing either:
"Every step in the implementation process has seen delays and setbacks," Kevin Kuhlman, a top official of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement. "This is starting to seem like a parody; unfortunately, it is extremely serious."
If nothing else, the Administration and the architects behind the behemoth legislative take-over of private healthcare are now learning a painful, embarrassing, public lesson: central planning fails.
It’s impossible for even the smartest people – whether outside or inside Washington – to plan out to the last detail massive programs that are frankly best left to those closest to the problem because they have intimate local knowledge of what works to make things happen.
Let’s hope that Enroll America will be forthcoming on the enrollment numbers and methods. I’d be curious to know how many fax machines get dusted off to submit enrolment forms. I’m skeptical it will be many, but as we know community organizations are getting paid for every person they enroll. So if they have to fax, hand deliver, wire, Pony Express or send smoke signals to Washington they’ll do it.