During the last election President Obama embraced the name Obamacare for his signature health care reform plan.
“I apologize, Mr. President. I use that term with all respect, by the way,” Mitt Romney said after saying that repealing Obamacare was at the top of his do-to list.
The president responded to the use of the phrase with a simple. “I like it.”
Given the recent news, Obama may end up regretting agreeing to have his name forever associated with the bill. Because while he may like it, many, including some Democrats in Congress, clearly don’t.
That fact became abundantly clear earlier this week when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, widely known to be one of the primary architects of the health reform law, said he’s worried that implementing several pieces of the bill could be a “huge train wreck” unless the Obama Administration gets their act together. The Associated Press reports:
“I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-MT, told Obama’s health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense.
Baucus is the first top Democrat to publicly voice fears about the rollout of the new health care law, designed to bring coverage to some 30 million uninsured people through a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance. Polls show that Americans remain confused by the complex law, and even many uninsured people are skeptical they will be helped by benefits that start next year.”
Sen. Baucus’ concerns and American’s skepticism appear well founded. The insurance exchanges, where individuals will be sent to ‘shop’ among various plans, is shaping up to be a disaster – a sentiment shared by the man in charge of putting together the exchange technology.
“The time for debating about the size of the text on the screen, or the color, or is it a world-class user experience, that’s what we used to talk about two years ago,” said Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”
Health industry executives, some of the people who will be required to interface with Obamacare’s platforms, were similarly dour. A poll taken by Edifecs, a health information technology company, found that 70.7 percent of health executives believe the federal government will not be ready to launch the insurance exchanges by the October 1 deadline.
Potential delays aren’t the only evidence that we’re headed for an implementation disaster. Earlier this month The Hill reported:
“The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) said in budget documents Wednesday that it expects to spend $4.4 billion by the end of this year on grants to help states set up new insurance exchanges. HHS had estimated last year that the grants would cost $2 billion.
The Department also is asking Congress for another $1.5 billion to help set up federally run exchanges in states that do not establish their own.”
And White House officials were also forced to announce that one set of exchanges – designed to give small businesses options to purchase health plans for their employees – would be delayed by a full year. The delay will force employers to choose a single plan for their employees.
“This delay will undoubtedly disappoint those who have seen employee choice as the primary benefit of the SHOP exchange,” writes Timothy Jost, a renowned health law professor and Obamacare supporter. “It also leaves unclear what advantage the SHOP exchange offers employers over the outside small-group market.”
Sadly, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problems. Small business subsidies have gone unused because they are too complex to understand, deadlines for rule-making have consistently been ignored, the CLASS Act was so actuarially unsound it was repealed, HHS has stopped signing up people with pre-existing conditions for subsidies because they ran out of money, the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board–whose recommendations are due in 8 months–hasn’t even been appointed, and the problems go on and on.
“The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, I think, deserve a failing grade. You need to fix it,” Baucus said. But it’s not just Obama’s outreach that deserves an ‘F’, it’s the whole law. So don’t fix it. Repeal it.