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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Obama, Proving His Critics Were Right All Along -- By Jim Geraghty, National Review

An Optimistic Vision of Our Near Future

“We are going to have to obviously remarket and rebrand [Obamacare], and that will be challenging in this political environment.”

Obama may or may not be stupid, but he sure as heck has a blind spot when it comes to evaluating problems. The problem with Obamacare is not the program’s branding. The problem with Obamacare is Obamacare – how it’s structured, what it requires Americans to do, what it requires insurers to do, the false promises used to sell it, and most importantly, the administration’s utter inability to do any of the basic tasks that it promised – like have the payment system built, never mind up and running, six weeks after the exchanges launch

A crucial system for making payments to insurers from the federal Obamacare marketplace, HealthCare.gov, has yet to be built, a senior government IT official admitted Tuesday.

The official, Henry Chao, visibly stunned Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) when he said under questioning that a significant fraction of that online insurance marketplace has yet to be constructed.

“We still need to build the payments system to make the payments [to insurance companies] in January,” Chao said during testimony. That so-called financial management tool was originally supposed to be part of HealthCare.gov when it launched Oct. 1, but officials later suspended its launch as part of their effort to get the consumer interface part of the site ready.

Chao on Tuesday said other areas that need to be built include “the back-office systems, the accounting systems.”

“This means that insurers, who are already dealing with dramatically lower enrollment numbers on HealthCare.gov than they were expecting, are not going to get paid while the government gets its act together, and the software in place to makes those payments happen,” CNBC’s Dan Mangan explains.

“That’s like setting up an online bank without setting up a way to make deposits,” an industry source told CNBC.

A cynic would argue Obama’s obsessed with the “branding” because that’s the only part he really understands. We know he has conditioned his staff to avoid telling him bad news – doesn’t need the drama. He’s telling us now that the process of buying insurance is more complicated than he and his team thought, raising the question of how well they understood the entire issue throughout this process. He’s clearly not interested in digging into the details of the problem; told us that even a week after the troubled launch, he believed it was just routine “glitches.”

The fact that we’re learning this from Chao, now, suggests that the situation is still basically the same now as it was October 1: no one in the White House really knows the status of Healthcare.gov and its repairs and implementation. They’re flying blind, making optimistic promises and hoping for the best.

The audacity of hope, you might say.

Allow me to lay out a scenario that some will find excessively optimistic, and some will find excessively pessimistic.

Everyone in America is now required to buy health insurance or pay a fine equal to one percent of their income, and the process they’re supposed to use to shop for and buy insurance doesn’t have a billing system. The cries to delay the individual mandate will grow deafening, but Obama will insist ‘full speed ahead.’

Next year, those who have had their plans canceled will be angry, those who are paying higher premiums will be angry, those who are paying the fine will be angry, the insurers sure as heck will be angry, and many of those who did manage to buy through the site will be angry once they see their premiums, copays, and deductibles.

And then, in fall 2014, the employer mandate kicks in, and an as-yet-unknown percentage of employers decide that it’s cheaper to pay the penalty than pay the cost of insurance for their employees. Millions more Americans are suddenly informed that their plans are canceled. Meanwhile, premiums for 2015 are higher, because insurers are dealing with the consequences of the older, sicker pool of workers who signed up in 2014.

Obama and his team will keep insisting that the health care system is improving, contradicting the personal experience of millions of Americans.

The 2014 midterms turn into a bloodbath for Democrats. Obama spends the final two years of his presidency vetoing efforts to repeal the whole damn thing.

Here’s where I really turn into an optimist: the catastrophic failure of Obamacare will cause Americans to drastically reevaluate President Obama himself, and the criteria they used to evaluate him as a potential president in 2008 and 2012. Maybe charisma, nice speeches, a beautiful family and perfect pant creases aren’t enough.  You’re not supposed to go from being an obscure state senator to President of the United States in a four-year span. The next president can’t get the job based upon potential. We need a proven problem-solver.

In the coming years, a solid majority of Americans outside of committed liberals will begin to acknowledge the hard truth that Barack Obama has been a failure as a president. It isn’t merely that his signature reform was sold with lies and managed to exacerbate the problems of the health care system instead of solving them.  What else will be Obama’s legacy? This terrific economy we’re enjoying? The out-of-control domestic surveillance programs at the NSA? Partisan abuses of the IRS? The national debt more than doubling under Obama’s presidency? The partisan fury in Washington? Eight years of ignoring the ticking time bomb of entitlements as the Baby Boomers begin to retire?

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