Much has been said about the dismal failure which is the rollout of the healthcare.gov website. There has been contempt and outrage from the Right, shock, disappointment and embarrassment from the Left, and befuddlement from the Obama administration and everyone associated with this fiasco. President Obama in his first statement following the web site calamity claimed that “no one in America is madder than he, about this problem”. That is simply an inadequate defense. He is the CEO of America and this is his signature law; his name is even attached to it. All of the blame rests with him. However, there are about 200 million Americans, 65% of the country who object to Obamacare and want full repeal, so it is safe to presume that they are madder than the President about all of this.
Individuals close to the “healthcare reform” fight have predicted the events unfolding before us now. Docs 4 Patient Care and other groups are on record going back to 2009, explaining that government involvement in healthcare has been expensive, wasteful, and inefficient, and that Obamacare would add to this exponentially. Medicare was passed in 1965 and projected to never exceed $10 billion annually. Now it accounts for $500 billion each year and there are over $30 Trillion in obligations to Medicare recipients for future care. Obamacare through trickery was estimated to cost $975 Billion over 10 years, but even before implementation, those costs have soared to almost $3 Trillion.
If President Obama is the name attached to the Affordable Care Act and the federal government overreach into healthcare, then Kathleen Sebelius is the face. When Congress passed the ACA and the President signed it into law, she was instantly elevated to a position of unlimited power over healthcare. She became the "healthcare czarina". Everything about healthcare filtered through her office. All of the 159 new federal agencies that were created by this law, all activity pertaining to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and complete control over implementation of Obamacare, including the website healthcare.gov and the rollout of the healthcare law. To listen to her excuses surrounding this disastrous launch, one would get the impression that she was an innocent bystander, and not the project supervisor. But this type of response from her is all too familiar.
When asked about the ability of the exchanges to be fully operational by October 1, she confidently asserted that there would be no problems at all. Once problems with the website were evident, she continued her obfuscation, claiming that the problems stemmed from the tremendous public demand to sign up for healthcare insurance. When asked how many people had signed up so far, she dodged this issue and refused to answer directly, claiming that this number would be released in a month. Don't expect this number to be released any time soon. The reason is because this number is embarrassingly small. Were it not, the Administration would be advertising it on Twitter and You Tube. If the system crashed because of volume (which is unlikely), it was only because of curiosity as to what it was all about rather than desire to purchase health insurance. We have come to learn that the real snafu appears to originate from Secretary Sebelius' office, when at the 11th hour, website visitors were required to register to browse the site; an experience very different from any other on the internet where consumers can freely and anonymously comparative shop.
The problems with Obamacare are just now beginning to reveal themselves to the American people, despite all of the warnings by its opponents. Insurance companies just last week dropped over a half million enrollees (Florida Blue-300,000, Blue Cross of California- 119,000, and Highmark in Pittsburgh- 160,000) which will grow to an estimated 16 million people. Employers have laid-off millions of workers or converted them to part time status to avoid costly government mandates. People who purchase insurance are paying more than ever for coverage- men on average now pay 100% more and women almost 65% more. Families of 4 are not saving $2500 per year as promised by Obama, but shelling out $7500 more.
This is just the insurance phase. The next part comes with government oversight and control of the delivery of healthcare. They cannot get it right with a website for which they had 3½ years to prepare and spent almost $650 million to set up. There is no way that they can satisfactorily play a role in healthcare decision making and oversight. Were they to try, this month’s problems would seem trivial by comparison.
It makes no difference if Kathleen Sebelius is held accountable for this disaster. That is what would happen in the private sector or even in a society where personal responsibility is valued. Calls for her termination are just a distraction and firing her would serve no purpose except retribution. However, keeping Mrs. Sebelius would accomplish two goals. First- it would punish her because she would have to continue to put “lipstick on this pig” which is Obamacare. There cannot be worse punishment. But more importantly, her continued servitude will remind people of the arrogance, hubris and detachment that she has shown up until now and likely will continue to demonstrate as she has done throughout her career. It will hopefully guide them in the future at ballot boxes across America.
Hal Scherz is the President & Founder of Docs4PatientCare. He is a full time pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and a clinical associate professor of urology at Emory University.
Please visit http://www.docs4patientcare.org