Quite a few folks — including Senators Harry Reid and Tom Coburn — believe Obamacare was “designed to fail,” that the system will prove so unworkable that within a few years, there will be wide public support for single-payer system, where all health care costs are paid for by the government.
There’s one flaw in this theory: The whole messy contraption of the Affordable Care Act has Obama’s name on it. And I’m not so sure Obama wants his name to forever be associated with a malfunctioning, care-denying failure that ruined health care for millions of Americans.
The “designed to fail” theory seems to be overthinking it. Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, and his crew thought they could make this work, and successfullly manage the overhaul of one-sixth of the nation’s economy, implementing a system of new taxes, new exchanges, new required coverage, subsidized premiums, penalties for not purchasing insurance, penalties for “Cadillac coverage” plans, elimination of low-cost catastropic-care options, thousands of “navigators” handling people’s personal health information, new incentives to move workers to part-time, new incentives to limit the number of workers at a business . . . and now we’re starting to see the parts fly off.
From today’s Morning Jolt:
Is Obamacare Doomed to Collapse No Matter What Congress Does?
Either everything we’re hearing about Obamacare from the people implementing it is wrong, or it’s going to be an unmanageable disaster. We may someday look back and think Ted Cruz and his like-minded Republicans worked tooth and nail to save Democrats from one of their biggest policy mistakes in decades.
Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employed spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges. Because of ObamaCare, the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The federal government this week made public its estimate of premium costs for the federal health-care exchanges. It is a morass, revealing the law’s underappreciated operational complexity.
But ObamaCare’s Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.
Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard. ObamaCare’s software has to communicate — accurately — across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers’ and employers’ software systems.
Recalling Rep. Thomas’s 1999 remark about Medicare setting prices for 3,000 counties, there is already mispricing of ObamaCare’s insurance policies inside the exchanges set up in the states.
The odds of ObamaCare’s eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.
The D.C. exchange was promoted by the media as ahead of the curve relative to other exchanges, and yet they still couldn’t get the subsidies calculations right in time for launch day — with three years to prepare. If that’s the shape that a comparatively well-run exchange was in, when would the more poorly-run exchanges start postponing elements of the rollout? Well, here you go. It took less than 24 hours.
Exit question: At this point, would the White House rather meet Boehner’s demand for a one-year delay of all of ObamaCare or Manchin’s demand for a one-year delay of the individual mandate specifically? I think there’s more political risk to the latter than the former, no? If you delay the whole law, you buy yourself time to work out all the bugs before trying again at a rollout next year. It’ll be hugely embarrassing to the White House to postpone things when they’re this close to launch, and there are doubtless lots of congressional Democrats who don’t want O-Care becoming a key issue right before the midterms, but that’s survivable. What’s potentially not survivable is rolling out the exchanges now minus the individual mandate, which means lots of young adults will face no legal compulsion to buy in. If (as Bill Clinton noted two days ago) healthy uninsured people refuse to fork over their money, then insurers suddenly don’t have a pool of revenue to cover all the people with preexisting conditions who are signing up, and then the whole scheme starts to collapse. There’ll be no delays after that; if insurers start crumbling, we’ll be in post-ObamaCare mode as a country. Better, then, to hit pause on the whole thing if you’re O to prevent that sort of collapse, right?