Why are we so critical because a giant complex health care overhaul doesn’t run perfectly after only two months? Is this all about the mandate and the penalties? Do we expect to see the perfect mix of signers after only two months? Are we nuts?
The media has been brutal about the difficulties with this roll out. Maybe this has been positive in a way because it has forced the administration to pour energy into making the health care web site work. The media is still hyping this crisis, although I am not sure why. They have set this up so that if the web site is not perfect by December 2, 2013, then this whole new insurance framework will have failed forever. We know that in the past the larger the program, the rougher the roll out. This program, although it was only designed to provide insurance for 30 million or so uninsured individuals, also attempts to solve some thorny insurance problems which have been created by a risk-adverse industry – problems like pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on treatment costs, problems like placing insurance costs beyond the reach of many younger Americans or the self-employed. In order to ask the industry to cover these high-risk areas it became important to reach a new pool of young healthy Americans to serve as a counterweight. The media reports the so far “desperate” failure of the plans to pull in these young buyers because they have been turned away by a nonfunctioning web site and they are not convinced of the value of this insurance to begin with, so once they have tried and failed, they will be lost to the market forever. Is this real panic or media created panic? Only time will tell, but I can’t help but wonder what stake the media has in the failure of the ACA beyond a blatant attempt to improve ratings. Even if the marketplace has not sorted itself out by March, 2014, it is entirely possible that dispensation will be given in the form of a later deadline for those tax penalties to kick in.
How much will these difficulties affect the 2014 election? We are all so fickle, or disenchanted by government, or so ADHD that it is impossible to guess how voters will jump until we are much closer to the election. We all know that big programs require generous start-up periods with an expectation of frequent glitches. Isn’t this the first large government/private partnership that has had a digital roll out? Of course it did not help that that oft-repeated statement the President made about keeping your insurance plan and your doctor was almost immediately proved wrong, or false, depending on your point of view. Did the President deliberately lie to get us on board? This really makes little sense as an explanation. Why would anyone whose life belongs right now to the public make such a public statement if he knew that it would soon be proven very publicly as false? I don’t believe any President would do that which leaves either 1) the President did not understand all the ramifications of his own plan, or 2) the President did not understand the calumny of the insurance industry.
The media is free, of course, to be as dramatic as they wish to be and to crank up their dismay at the “failures” of the ACA start up to operatic proportions, but they must accept that they may be helping the opposition party destroy a program that really would have eventually improved our health insurance. I also understand that it is not the media’s job to tout a program just because of inherent social values it might have; the media is not an advertising agency. However, reminding people that there is real history behind that old cliché, no pain, no gain; reminding them of the difficulties that have accompanied other roll outs; reminding people that mistakes are made and can often be forgiven, should also be covered regularly as part of this story.
The fact that Congress does nothing and is especially quiet and inactive right now may be forcing the media to focus on the ACA roll out because it is just about the only news in town. In fact, the media could be feeding right into one of those GOP game plans that the New York Times exposed, was it just last week? So the Republicans could have strategized to have the media dissing the ACA for them so they can really kick back and revel in that doing-nothing thing they are doing. We the people need a way to fire Congress but the only way we can do this is to elect Democrats in 2014.
This is the view from the cheap seats.
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