That an editorial in USA Today this morning hammers ObamaCare’s launch as an “inexcusable mess” means things are really bad. This editorial has to be causing heartburn in the West Wing. After all, USA Today competes with the Wall Street Journal for the honor of being the newspaper with the widest circulation in the U.S.
While slamming the rollout, the Editorial Board is clearly pro-ObamaCare—and this only makes the editorial’s critique of the launch more devastating. This is not an anti-ObamaCare outlet seizing upon “glitches” to discredit ObamaCare. This is an editorial that clearly reflects a hope that ObamaCare will succeed but is forced to acknowledge that the launch was a disaster.
The editorial begins:
Over the first four days the new online health insurance exchanges were open last week, more than 8 million people visited them, according to the Obama administration. At the very least, this casts doubt on the Republican claim that Americans hate Obamacare and want it repealed. It seems millions of people desperately want the coverage the law will allow them to get, regardless of their medical histories.
Alas, the administration managed to turn the experience for most of those visitors into a nightmare. Websites crashed, refused to load, or offered bizarre and incomprehensible choices. Even though the system was shut down for repairs over the weekend, Monday's early reports continued to suggest an epic screw-up.
You have to love that locution—the law “will allow” them to get health insurance. Allow? The correct word, I think, is mandate. National Review’s Jim Geraghty comments in the Morning Jolt:
They're being a little generous in that first paragraph, as we shouldn't be that surprised to see a site get 8 million hits (i.e., a good afternoon for the Drudge Report) for something that every American is now legally required to purchase. (You're not required to purchase through that web site, but you are required to be insured or to pay an extra tax that they insisted at the time of passage wasn't a tax.)
USA Today continues:
President Obama's chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. "Take away the volume and it works," he told USA TODAY's Tim Mullaney.
That's like saying that except for the torrential rain, it's a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration's daily weather report predicting ObamaCare's popularity?
We don’t actually know if the allegedly vast number of people who, according to the administration, tried to log onto the website reflected the popularity of ObamaCare, as USA Today fondly hopes, a desire for something free (guess what: it’s not free), curiosity, or was a result of the legal coercion to buy health insurance. We just know that Week I was an unholy mess.
More from USA Today:
If there's good news, it's that technology can be fixed. Consumers have until mid-December to sign up for insurance that takes effect Jan. 1.
As the incompetence drones on, however, it hands ammunition to those who want to kill the law regardless of the broad interest in it. Delay — a tactic Republicans seek as a means of repealing Obamacare — is no answer.
First, we don’t know that the software can be fixed. Some are suggesting that there is an inherent design flaw.
Second, the incompetence is more than happenstance. It is an early warning sign that Uncle Sam just may not belong in the health care business.