Republicans in Congress could have saved the country a lot of stress – as well as an estimated $ 24 billion – if they had ignored the government shutdown and let inane computer programmers scuttle Obamacare. The rollout of the new healthcare exchanges – at the heart of the Affordable Care Act – has been so failed that one has to wonder if the technicians who set it up are secretly members of the tea party.
Democrats, who have had their moment of fleeting glee as Republican poll numbers plummet in the wake of the government shutdown, are particularly upset that the Obamacare website is such a flop. If everything had gone well their party might have gained popularity, but now they look as miserable as Republicans. This is why Democratic voices have been among the loudest to demand that someone – anybody – must pay the price of false start.
Of course, when you talk about an extremely complex computer system that brings together a sea of ââinformation on health care plans, comparative costs, eligibility information and income data, it is not a panacea to throw out those who messed up. They have to stick around to explain the scale of the mess to anyone who has to rethink Healthcare.gov.
There were a lot of issues when, after the website launched on October 1, millions of Americans logged in to view it. For most of them, the site crashed, froze, or worked very slowly. The few who entered it either found incorrect information about federal tax credits or discovered that the site had misused their apps. At least some of the many problems are attributed to messy coding, inadequate integration of various site functions, old technology, and poor coordination of software from 55 different contractors.
It was a huge project and obviously those responsible for carrying it out were not up to the task. However, bringing in a team of geniuses from outside to fix everything, as is done now, does not guarantee instant recovery. A rule of thumb in the high tech world: adding more people to a job simply increases complexity and delays completion.
As a result, it’s no surprise that the White House appears poised to move the February 15 deadline next year for the mandatory purchase of health care to March 31. Given the mess with the website, a mere one month delay may not be enough.
Even if they haven’t increased the drinking water of the website designers, Republicans can still take some credit for the stumbling beginnings of the health-care trade. As originally conceived, each state was supposed to run its own market, and even now in many states that have taken on this responsibility, the deployment is working quite well. But many states refused to participate and so it is the people of those states who are stuck with the infuriating federal website.
These non-participating states, of course, all have Republican governors whose opposition to Obamacare motivated their decision to step down. They must be delighted that their inaction has added to the nightmare of uninsured citizens just trying to get affordable health care.