Hope for health site?
By SHERMAN FREDERICK
It’s Thanksgiving week. It’s also the official start of the one-week countdown to the second launch of HealthCare.gov. The nation wonders: Which will feature the bigger turkey?
I’d like to think — and I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my warm, conservative heart — that President Barack Obama and his “best and brightest” team of code-writing fools will have the Obamacare website up and running like Amazon.com on Dec. 1, just like they promised.
I’d also like the Arizona Cardinals to win out the NFL regular season and get the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs this year.
Let’s get real.
As good a receiver as Larry Fitzgerald is, he can’t protect the quarterback and catch passes at the same time. At xix wins and four losses, the Cardinals might make the playoffs, but there’s little chance they run the table on the NFC West. You can put a presidential “period” behind that.
So it is with Obama’s re-animation of HealthCare.gov. His team may get the website up and running at, say, 50 percent, meaning that almost one out of every two people can get to a place where they can actually see what health plans are available to them, but there’s little chance the HealthCare.gov website is fully operational on Dec. 1.
How do I know this? Just last week the Obama tech folks essentially told us so in House hearings. The only question I have at this point is whether the White House was surprised as much as we were by the revelations. I hope not, but, good grief, who knows with this crew.
First, the website folks said that on Dec. 1 the website will not be secure — at least not secure in the way they eventually want it secure (whatever that means. This raises an important question: Why would anyone put personal financial and health information on HealthCare.gov after hearing that?
Then Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the House hearing that a significant chunk of the system isn’t complete.
You mean the Obama administration launched HealthCare.gov on Oct. 1 with parts unfinished, a House inquisitor asked.
“I think it’s, uh, just an approximation … because we still have to build the systems,” Chao said.
The online application, verification, determination, plan compare, enrollment and enrollment transaction systems are “100 percent there,” said Chao, but the back-office, accounting and payment systems “still need (to) be built.”
I speak a little techno, so let me decipher that for you. He said that if this were Amazon.com, we could shop to our heart’s content, but we could never, ever check out. You know, something like purgatory in a Stephen King story.
If Chao were telling this to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, do you think Bezos would consider this website ready to launch on Dec. 1? I don’t think Chao makes it out of that meeting with a job.
This is why the White House political folks are sweating blood right now trying to reduce expectations for the website. They know that whatever crawls out from behind the HealthCare.gov curtain on Dec. 1, it isn’t going to be anything that remotely looks like Amazon.com.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe the website will work eventually. Just like I believe my beloved Arizona Cardinals will get to the playoffs again and one day win the Super Bowl. But my guess is that both the Cardinals and HealthCare.gov will not reach their stated goals this year.
I am not rooting against HealthCare.gov. Quite the opposite.
I want it to work. I want it to work well. I want it to work well right now. Because when Americans finally get a clear look at the devastation Obamacare has brought to the affordability and quality of health care coverage, the sooner this nightmare of government ineptness and progressive overreach ends.
Sherman Frederick is former editor of the Tribune-Herald and former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
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