The flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act has pushed President Obama to the lowest point of his presidency, with dwindling faith in his competence and in many of the personal attributes that have buoyed him in the past, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Opposition to the new health-care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. Just a month ago, as the enrollment period was beginning, the public was almost evenly divided in its assessments of the law.
These takeaways were gotten before new and even more damning revelations of incompetence were made. The New York Times’ has a bit of cheerleading in today’s lead story on the ongoing collapse of Obamacare, but no matter. As my conversation with Wellpoint founder Danny Weinberg –the “old insurance guy” as his website calls him– pointed out yesterday, the systemic, interlocking flaws of the vast Rube Goldberg scheme cannot help but crash down and into one another over the next two years. Denny’s series of suggested fixes over at www.oldinsuranceguy.com are the common sense observations of one of the most successful health insurance executives in America in the past two decades, but unless he and like-minded, experienced insurance professionals are empowered quickly, the chaos in health care will grow to extraordinary levels.
The latest evidence detailing the Web site’s troubled startup came amid signs of progress in repairing it. As of mid-November, more than 50,000 people had selected an insurance plan — up from 27,000 in the entire month of October, people working on the project said.
The reporters, Sharon LaFraniere and Eric Lipton, then add:
That is still a fraction of the number the administration had hoped for. And specialists plowing through an initial list of more than 600 software and hardware defects remain worried about whether they can meet the administration’s goal of enabling four in five users to enroll through the online federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, by Nov. 30. One person said a more realistic goal was that four out of five people “have a positive experience,” which could include being redirected to customer service agents.
What awful spin to swallow whole. The reporters must be vibrating still. Not working is not working. And the real story is over at the Post, which reported that the Administration was told in March that the system was full of holes –and no one did anything but press on to the cliff.
So ask yourself: Is this gang leveling with us on the second-order disasters ahead? The nightmares that occur when the business mandate kicks in next year? The millions and millions of cancellation letters that will flow out from employers fleeing the premium shock and the repricing of all the plans on the individual market next summer. Talk to Weinberg or any genuinely experienced senior private sector insurance company executive, and you will get an earful. This is nothing. Really. It is just a distant roll of thunder of an approaching superstorm.
I will ask Dr. Charles Krauthammer about this when he returns today for a longer interview than we had time for last week. That interview, like Dr. K’s new book Things That Matter, was wonderfully received, so he had kindly agreed to return and finish our long chat. Into that mix I will bring this ongoing collapse, and my two theories.
The first is really a corollary. Dr. Krauthammer has argued Obamacare might bring about the repudiation of liberalism. Obamacare’s “unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry,” Krauthammer recently wrote. If he is correct, and I think he is, where does the cracking ice go next? Right into the education reform movement, where Education Secretary Arne Duncan “white suburban moms” slam didn’t get much play except among, well, white suburban moms? Into the EPA’s massive regulatory forced marched through America’s energy production system? My corollary is that if Obamacare is the disaster we think it is, some other vast Obamacare undertaking will hit the iceberg fairly soon as well.
The second theory is that the Democrats are staring at an electoral abyss, one far greater than they faced in 2010 or the GOP in 2006, one more akin to what Canadian conservatives fell into in 1993, when they went from 156 seats in Parliament –to two.
Democrats look out a year from now and they shudder. Congressman Steve Israel, the Democrats’ point guy for the 2014 elections is keeping up a painfully thin false bravado, telling anyone who will listen that “[w]hat always amazed me is not [the GOP's] ability to shoot themselves in the foot but how quickly they always reload,” even as the Obamacare avalanche sweeps down on his party.
Fine by me and the House and Senate GOP, but not by the millions of Americans who are losing doctors and not just insurance plans. Focus on this story: Tens of thousands of doctors are getting dropped from Medicare Advantage plans, which means seniors can’t go to them any more, which means very angry seniors. Just another story, not the last, of the ongoing massive shocks unleashed by Obamacare’s rollout.
Democrats are in fear of their collective political life. They should be. Unless and until their leaders begin to act –actually act– to do something to at least put out the fire the correct impression will deepen and spread that this was the plan all along. And there will be hell to pay when voting begins in 47 weeks.