And the winner of the award for, The Worst Possible Explanation For And Execution Of A Great Idea, is, Barack H. Obama. Accepting for the president is every tech geek and spin doctor currently employed by the present administration.
Yes, the Affordable Care Act roll out and the accompanying confusion, rumors, and falsehoods have been such a nightmare the conspiracy theorist in me is starting to think Barry Obama himself is on the GOP payroll. I mean, no one as smart as the president can fuck up something so important as this much without meaning to can he?
I guess he can. That is why the guy in charge held a press conference today and apologized a number of times to the people of the United States of America for the way he and his administration so utterly screwed the pooch on the health care initiative. Of course it is tough to know whether anyone out there, at this point, will accept, or even believe his apologies. NBC News reports the latest Quinnipac poll shows 52% of Americans currently think Obama isn't honest and trustworthy while only 44% feel the opposite.
The disaster has been so complete and the pressure so severe, Obama has been forced into reluctant retreat as congressional democrats pull out their hair and look for storm shelters. The idea de jour is to allow everyone to keep their current plans, even the really rotten ones, through 2014. The only caveat would be the insurance companies have to tell their customers what their plan doesn't cover and advise them they have the option of going to the federal or state health exchanges to buy new coverage. They also have to tell them the new coverage would be available with government subsidies to offset higher rates if they qualify and, if they are eligible, they can switch to the expanded medicaid option.
Right. Those sort of warnings and advisories really work. Quick, name me one person who buys a pack of Winstons, looks at the warning label on the side and says, "Oh shit, I shouldn't be doing this," then throws it away.
You can tell people the main goals of the ACA all day long. You know, the elimination of coverage caps, stopping the actuary bullshit which causes companies to charge women three to five times more than men for similar policies, the lack of cancer screening coverage, and of course, the old, being uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions bugaboo. However, to your average Joe and Jane out there who doesn't care about the fine print, it is the bottom line that counts. Hey, I'm not sick right now and I can't afford more than I'm paying at the moment and you know what--I'm not even sure how I can cash in a subsidy. Then throw in the fact it is a fiery pain in the ass to change coverage, at least through the feds and huge numbers of people aren't going to give didly squat about good intentions.
NBC reports the federal site has taken 26,000,000 hits, but only 26,794 people have been able to navigate through the maze of glitches, crashes, and fol de rol to sign up. It also reports 400,000 people are eligible for the medicaid coverage and 1,000,000 souls have completed applications, but not chosen a plan yet.
The only real glimmer of hope is that apparently the state run exchanges which are up and running have been fairly well received. In New York 16,404 people have enrolled, in California 33,364, and in Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky 7,091 have signed up. In other words, if you build it and it actually works, they will come.
Unfortunately for those living in states controlled by people who think this whole thing is some socialist plot there aren't any local exchanges. The populace is forced to go to the federal site. That is why in Texas, a state with a huge number of uninsured people, only 2,991 have enrolled in different plans.
It should have never come to this. Obama should have used the bully pulpit to tell people exactly what was going to happen instead of smiling and babbling in such broad terms he can now, rightfully so, be construed as a cynical liar--it is so bad at this moment he looks suspiciously like the Shamwow guy on steroids. On the other side the tech people should have spent months, if not years, testing the daylights out of the site. Lets face it, they knew when the roll out date was. It wasn't some state secret, Ed Snowden just released to the world press.
You can almost see Obama wandering the halls of the white house pleading, someone who can write code, someone who can write code, my kingdom for someone who can write code.
The final truth is, beyond the technical snafus, this president could have saved himself some real grief and credibility if he would have summoned up the guts to tell everybody not only the upside of the ACA, but the downside as well. For God's sake, give us some credit, Mr. Obama.
In short, trust us, sir and we will trust you.
If you can't bring yourself to do it, then you're not the man I thought you were.