Skip to comments.Obamacare Threatens to Implode - Its software problems might get ironed out. Or they might not.
Posted on 10/19/2013 10:33:39 AM PDT by neverdem
Amid all the tussling over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, a couple of bombshells went off in the blogosphere that may prove of more enduring importance.
They suggest that there is a nontrivial possibility that Obamacare may implode.
The first bombshell went off on Tuesday, from Ezra Klein of the Washington Posts Wonkblog.
Klein was one of those young writers who formed JournoList a few years ago so that like-minded Obama fans could coordinate their lines of argument. It was like one of those college-sophomore clubs, not really necessary in an age of ready contact through e-mail, but it shows him as a guy inclined to play team ball.
So its noteworthy when he writes, So far, the Affordable Care Acts launch has been a failure. Not troubled. Not glitchy. A failure.
Klein notes that the rollout of the Medicare prescription-drug program was also rocky two weeks into the process. But later it got smoothed out.
Klein fears Obamacare wont. Its not just a problem of overloaded servers. Everyone knew there would be lots of traffic in a nation of 312 million people. Information-technology folks say its easy to add servers.
Its harder to get software systems to communicate. And as Klein quotes insurance consultant Bob Laszlewski, the backroom connection between the insurance companies and the federal government is a disaster.
The reconciliation system isnt working and hasnt even been tested, Klein reports. Insurers are getting virtually no usable data from the exchanges.
Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle, who unlike most Obamacare architects actually worked at an IT firm for a couple of years, sees the possibility of even more trouble ahead.
She points out that the administration delayed writing major rules during the 2012 campaign to avoid giving Republicans campaign fodder.
The biggest contractor did not start writing software code until spring 2013. They were still fiddling with the Healthcare.gov website in September.
Instead of subcontracting the responsibility for integrating the software of the multiple contractors, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services decided to do it in-house a decision, McArdle writes, equivalent to someone who has never even hung a picture deciding that they should become their own general contractor and build a house.
If the exchanges dont get fixed soon, she writes, they could destroy Obamacare. You need the exchanges to enroll enough young healthy people to subsidize those who are sick and old, which is one of the central features of Obamacare.
Otherwise, premiums shoot up and up, pushing others out of the system a death spiral that can continue year after year.
At what point, she asks, do we admit that the system just isnt working well enough, roll it back, and delay the whole thing for a year? She suggests that if the system cant enroll 50 percent of its users by November 1, such a hugely drastic step would be in order.
That sounds like a nightmare of the first order for individuals, for insurers, for employers, and for the Obama administration. A far worse nightmare than when Congress in 1989 repealed the Medicare prescription-drug plan it had passed the year before because of widespread dissatisfaction.
Of course its possible this nightmare will not happen. Things will get ironed out somehow.
But if they dont, whos responsible? First, a president who is not much interested in how government works on the ground. As a community organizer he never did get all the asbestos removed from the Altgeld housing project.
Politico reports that his universal health care promise was first made when his press secretary and speechwriter needed a rousing ending to a 2007 campaign speech to a liberal group.
Second, lawmakers and administrators who assume that, in an Information Age, all you have to do is to assign a task to an IT team and they will perform it. Cross your fingers, and it gets done.
Third, government IT-procurement rules that are kludgy. Apple didnt bid on this. The IT work went to insider firms that specialize in jumping through the hoops and ladders of government-procurement rules.
Unfortunately, the consequences of a meltdown are enormous when a system is supposed to be used by everybody. If a private firms software fails, it can go bankrupt. No one else much cares.
But if Obamacares software crashes, the consequences will be catastrophic for the nation and for the Democratic party.
Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. © 2013 The Washington Examiner. Distributed by Creators.com
You can’t fix stupid. I don’t think the ‘RATS will ever get this mess fixed.
ObamaCare isn’t about software glitches. It’s about a system designed to implode upon itself thereby setting off a clamor for single-payer.
What is good for the nation is bad for the Democrat party.
That probably won't happen. Instead, the subsidy levels will be raised to keep the premiums "affordable."
Obama will save face and the federal deficit will balloon even more. In other words, business as usual in DC.
Medicare has been doing online enrollments for years. They even have online enrollment in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements. The Medicare Advantage programs vary from county to county and state to state.
Why could they not have just modified that Medicare online software? It surely would have cost less that the supposed $634 million they spent for the current Obamacare mess.
To quote Judge Judy: “Follow the money.”
It might be interesting to see where that $634 million went.
What if the same programers that were hired to take out Iran's Newkleer program ( Moo$$add ), actually worked on this project? :-)
Oh, that would be delicious payback for Commander Negative Uno who has been sticking it in their back since 1/20/2008....
The government is already functionally bankrupt. No one else much cares except Constitutionalists.
Frank Chan runs a company that knows how to design this software. He has done 30 projects like this. He said the site is customer-UNFRIENDLY illogical and his company would be embarrassed to charge more that one million to build such a site
He said this on Sean Hanniity radio show yesterday
I read where some young genius wanted O to hire Facebook to fix the OC website.
NO!! Make them go through it and let it be the disaster it is becoming. If it is delayed for a year, it gives them time to fix it and the Dems come away with a major coup.
Right now, the conservatives need ZeroCare to fail on an astronomical level so that voters remember in 2014 the disastrous crap that was shoved down their throats by Dems. That's how conservatives (hopefully, Tea Partiers) will make major gains in the mid-terms!!
And the crap that comes out of places like that is lightweight, out of date, laughable KludgeWare that is comically bad.
Like what they got.
It can't be fixed. Been in projects like this before. The only thing to do is flush it all and start over.
But they won't, which is good thing. Let it collapse.
Hey Deimmycrats: It’s not the technology, it’s the math stupid.
Actually the enrollment and back office software from one of the major insurance carriers like Anthem would be a good start.
Whew! What a mess! Hey, let’s just go with a single payer system! /sarc
Millions of Americans have already lost their existing insurance as of 1/1/14. There is no going back only going away.
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