The Campaign Spot

Democrat on Obamacare: ‘We Will Own This Problem Forever.’

Ron Fournier, of National Journal, formerly of the Associated Press:

“Dem Party is F****d.” That was the subject line of an email sent to me Sunday by a senior Democratic consultant with strong ties to the White House and Capitol Hill. The body of the email contained a link to this Los Angeles Times story about Obamacare “sticker shock” . . . 

The Democratic consultant said none of this is news to him, but he wonders why Obama wasn’t honest with Americans. He predicted surprise and outrage over higher costs and lesser coverage. “We will own this problem forever,” the Democrat wrote.

From that Democrat’s lips to God and the American electorate’s ears.

But it’s not as if the Democrats aren’t experts in blame-shifting.

I suspect that if there is no miraculous solution to the woes of Obamacare, and the issue is a liability heading into November 2014, Democrats will attempt the shameless maneuver of insisting the problems with Obamacare — both the web site and the policy — are the fault of Republicans and that handy perennial scapegoat, health insurance companies. Picture television commercials like this:

“Obamacare was supposed to help expand care for everyone. But Republicans and the big insurance companies stood in the way, and now millions are losing coverage because of their obstructionism. We need someone to stand up to the powerful interests in Washington so that all of us get the care we need! Vote for [insert name of Democrat incumbent or challenger here]!”

We’ve already seen the “blame Republicans” spin from Howard Dean, Juan Williams, and a few others.

Dean’s assessment claims the problem is that HHS had to build a “one size fits all” web site, and that the problem could have been alleviated by “regional” web sites, but that’s just flat wrong. The site isn’t having a problem differentiating requests from different states. The biggest problems are A) problems with users putting in data and B) getting the right data to the IRS and insurance companies. Remember, the amount of traffic wasn’t an issue; the day of its debut, the website crashed shortly after midnight as several thousand people tried to use it.

Nor is the problem with the site the fact that more Republican governors didn’t create their own sites. The state sites are having similar problems:

When enrollment opened Oct. 1 in California, a tool designed to help consumers search for doctors wasn’t working. Early last week, Covered California officials said the search tool was up and running. But, within hours, those using it found a slew of problems. Covered California, which runs the state exchange, took it offline again to make some fixes. “I had an opthamologist [sic] friend listed as speaking Farsi, Russian and Spanish, and he doesn’t speak any of those languages,” says Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association, which represents about 37,000 doctors statewide. Perhaps even more awkward, data loaded into the site contained errors that linked doctors to the wrong specialty. For instance, Thorp says, a gynecologist friend of his was listed as an ophthalmologist. — Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, Los Angeles

Oregon’s new health insurance exchange may not be able to start processing applications on its new website until early next month. CoverOregon chief Rocky King said the backup plan is to start processing applications by hand. “I believe we’ll be up and running way in time for people to get coverage by Dec. 15th,” he said. “That said, we also have contingency plans that we’ve put in place that we’ll be able to accept paper applications and paper enrollment. And we’re starting that process this week.” — Kristian Foden-Vencil, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland, Ore.

Some are performing worse than the federal site:

Officials claim that, the online Obamacare exchange designed to provide individuals and small businesses with information about health care plans, federal subsidies and tax credits, is now fully operational. But that wasn’t the case yesterday for some who tried to log on.

The website went live Oct. 1 after a great deal of media hype, but for two weeks, the exchange had no information on the 95 health insurance plans it would eventually offer, including pricing.

There was no “Republican obstructionism” in California, Oregon, or Hawaii. But that won’t stop Democrats from claiming that in the year ahead.


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