The conversation about Obamacare shifted a bit over the weekend. Nobody has forgotten about the technical problems with healthcare.gov. But now critics are also focusing on something else: Reports of sharp premium increases that some individual consumers are facing. In the last few weeks, several hundred thousand Americans have received notices from their health insurance companies, effectively cancelling their existing policies. These consumers can get new policies, of course, but frequently they have to pay more for them.
The Obama Administration has spent a lot of time downplaying the problems with healthcare.gov. It hasn’t spent a lot of time talking about the real problems, how extensive they are, or by when it plans to fix them. That changed on Friday, when the Administration made three key announcements during its now-daily conference call on the status of repairs:
Sorting out the commentary on Obamacare is a lot less important than sorting out Obamacare. But an interesting and potentially important debate has started in the last few days—one that gets at why the failures (so far) are so depressing and how (hopefully) the administration can fix them.
Ever since the disastrous launch of the federal Obamacare website, conservatives have been calling for the head of Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services. Representative Bill Johnson, Republican of Ohio, answered "absolutely" after being asked whether Sebelius should get "canned." Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor of Virgina who thinks he's a gynecologist,
One issue that came up in Thursday’s House hearings on healthcare.gov is the government’s decision, in the middle of September, to require that people create new accounts before browsing insurance plans. It's possible (although not certain) that this design decision contributed to the site’s problems, particularly in the early days. Account creation is a particularly complex process, one that has given the federally run website fits.
But historian Michael Hiltzik says Obama could've learned a few lessons from FDR
Alf Landon has been largely forgotten by history, but conservatives today ought to refresh their memories. Landon, a Republican, challenged President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 election on a platform of repealing Social Security—before the program had even begun. FDR won in a landslide, taking all states but two.
The Obamacare online saga may be reaching the phase where media and political hysteria is out of proportion to the actual problem. A case in point is the controversy over enrollment numbers.
(The old Mitt Romney, that is.)
In an alternative universe—the one where the GOP hadn't gone totally nuts—it would be an easy choice.
In the spring of 2012, while reporting a piece on the political landscape in Ohio, I spent several hours on two successive afternoons tagging along with canvassers from Working America, the AFL-CIO affiliate that tries to mobilize people who don’t have a union to join at work but would like to be part of the organized labor mission.
President Obama’s Rose Garden speech Monday was supposed to send two messages—one, that he is determined to fix Obamacare’s troubled federal websites and, two, that the law is already helping many people get insurance. I happen to believe both claims, but I doubt the event convinced anybody with doubts.