Delay may be coming for health care law

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Kudos to the Sentinel for its second timely editorial (“Delay may be coming for health care law”) chronicling the embarrassingly error-plagued “rollout” of the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) federal “health insurance exchange” website (see, “Obamacare rollout is reason for worry”).

Without proclaiming “I told you so!”, the Sentinel offers feint hope to those who would repeal, replace, de-fund, delay, and/or modify the ACA, that it will self-destruct on its own.  Don’t count on it.

While there are multiple technical reasons for the debacle – which will undoubtedly be painstakingly documented by the three Congressional committees scheduled to hold hearings – several explanations should already be obvious.

First, the ACA’s architects assumed – since it was originally a “conservative” proposal that applied “market driven” competition and “principles of federalism” to lower health care costs – that “red” states would welcome the opportunity to assume responsibility for their own citizens’ health insurance options.  Wrong!

Second, because 26 Republican-controlled “red” states entirely refused to cooperate with the ACA, Secretary Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) became unexpectedly responsible for fielding a federal website covering 36 states – a workload for which it was neither adequately funded nor sufficiently staffed.

Third, consequently, various parts of the overall project were “outsourced” to multiple private contractors – exceeding DHS’s capacity to effectively oversee their work.

Fourth, because Massachusetts’ website had operated successfully for years, program managers underestimated the complexity of fielding 36 state-specific modules by the October 1 deadline – leaving insufficient time for adequate testing and succumbing to “wishful thinking”.

Yesterday, however, Ohio became the first of those 26 recalcitrant “red” states to reverse itself and accept Medicaid expansion funds – a hint that “ObamaCare” is here to stay.

Hopefully, President Obama’s “tech surge” of “whiz kids” will eventually resolve all “glitches” – even if “open enrollment” is extended another quarter.

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