The president’s Rose Garden appearance on the Obamacare mess, arguably his most widely panned outing, one day may be thought of the equivalent of President George W. Bush standing under the “Mission Accomplished” banner. In President Obama’s case, the operative, and maybe deadly, phrase is “the Affordable Care Act is not just a Web site.” There are a whole bunch of problems with that one. Here are five that immediately come to mind:
First, as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pointed out in a press conference today:
How about the report over the last couple of days of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are finding out that they’re going to lose their coverage because the plans they have today don’t qualify under Obamacare? And when you begin to look at these hundreds of thousands of people, I think what you’re going to see at the end of October are more Americans are going to lose their health insurance than are going to sign up at these exchanges.
I think the medical phrase is “First, do no harm.”
Second, if Obamacare is more than the Web site, then let the rest of it go forward and either suspend the Web site or stop penalizing people because they can’t get on it. And if the exchanges and the Web site aren’t the heart and soul of Obamacare, why was it such a problem to delay the individual mandate?
Third, if the Web site isn’t important, then we shouldn’t have spent so much money on it. And, because we don’t know how much was spent, someone should tell us.
Fourth, if the Web site was the main mechanism by which young, healthy people were going to get insurance and pay for the rest, how’s that going to work if they don’t want to spend hours signing up for something they don’t really want? What happens if only a couple million people sign up (30 million was promised)? It might be cheaper to get each one a personal physician than to pay for this monstrosity.
Fifth, maybe the exchanges are the wrong answer to the problem of the uninsured. The point, of course, is to get people health care, not insurance per se. So why not give a voucher to everyone who couldn’t get on the non-functioning Web site (like getting a drink free when the service is bad at Starbucks). It can go into a health savings account either to pay for care or to purchase perhaps a more affordable insurance plan. (Call it the Actually Affordable Health Care Plan.) People might like that better. And if that’s the game plan, I bet some Republicans would be happy to subsidize neighborhood clinics where those vouchers can be used.
The president is, as most know, simply spinning. The exchanges, which are reachable only through the Web site for most Americans, are the main act for Obamacare and the bane of its existence. It was supposed to create a marketplace (Expedia! Amazon!), and whether that can be done is questionable. Obamacare might be more than the Web site, but if the Web site fails to sign up millions of Americans, the rest of Obamacare probably will collapse as well.