November 23, 2013

Scrap that Nov. 30 deadline for Obamacare website fix?

At least, that's the intuitive feeling I get.


First, Obama is considering letting people sign up for Obamacare directly via insurance companies. I think that's a fairly strong indication that will NOT be fixed by Nov. 30. (And Megan McArdle claims this is breaking the law.)

Second? If up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting it still need to be fixed, I don't see that being completed in 11 days.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao (said) ... financial management tools remain unfinished, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers. ...

Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, plan shopping and enrollment functions, won’t be affected by the ongoing development effort, but that “back office” functions including accounting and payment systems were not yet complete.
That said, from the rest of the story, it's clear House Republicans are playing at least as much politics as normal with this issue.

At the same time, per the second page, it seems clear oversight of is still haphazard. Yes, enrollment numbers may be increasing. But, per the second link, that's not the problem. The payout side is the biggie. And, if insurers ain't getting money, they ain't taking Obamacare clients.

Hence the first link. Which basically gets even closer to corporate socialism, in a sense.

So, if the website is fixed in the public's eye, it won't be, in the eyes of Blue Cross, et al.

There's another deadline. Dec. 23 is the deadline to sign up for insurance for the new year. Maybe Obama doesn't fully hit that target on software fixes either, as Amy Davidson notes at the New Yorker. She, too adds (this is the New Yorker, not the New York Post, folks) that much of the problem is Dear Leader's:
After five years in the White House, Obama still believes that he can go into a corner, tinker with something until it’s better, and win on the merits. The long view can serve him well, but it can also leave him unprepared when the other side won’t give up on an all-out battle. Health-care reform is the President’s signature legislative achievement, and a historic one. To preserve it, he needs to fight for it politically, state by state. This time, the Obama brand alone isn’t enough.
Chances of him truly grasping that? C'mon, we've seen enough of him over five years. Chances are 50-50 at best.

Meanwhile, Brian Beutler, now of Salon, but formerly of the Obamiac Talking Points Memo site (famed in my mind for running slide shows of White House photographers' pix, for doing like the mainstream media and unnecessarily letting Obama officials go off the record and other things) cites Kentucky's state-level exchange as Example A, and the only example, of why the GOP will lose the Obamacare fight. Given that it's a state-level exchange, and has about zip to do with, it sounds like what it is: an Obamiac puff piece. State exchanges were up and working from the start, therefore don't have to overcome the burden of bad expectations. Or bad base-level design, or other things.

And, Beutler's piece doesn't address any of the behind-the-scenes for individuals issues that the federal site probably won't have fixed by Nov. 30, either.

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