October 8, 2013
MEGAN MCARDLE: Republicans Didn’t Sabotage Health Exchanges, Obama Did.
For the first week that the federal health-care exchanges were running … well, crawling … the Obama administration claimed that no one could get through because of overwhelming pent-up demand. Essentially it spent a week arguing that no one could have predicted that, in a country of 300 million people, 2.4 percent of those people might stop by sometime in the first seven days to check out the administration’s signature legislative achievement.
We can now dismiss that theory, because the administration has: “Six days into the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the new health-care law, the federal government acknowledged for the first time Sunday it needed to fix design and software problems that have kept customers from applying online for coverage.”
Presumably, it would not have given that interview if its efforts to fix the systems had been successful this weekend. The Hill reports that the system will go offline again late tonight for more repairs.
So prepare yourself for the next theory: This is the fault of Republicans. Had Republicans created state exchanges as they were supposed to, agreed to the Medicaid expansion and provided more funding, the reasoning goes, everything would be going swimmingly. . . .
But I do not think that the Republicans can be blamed for this particular disaster. They did not force the administration to wait until late 2011 to begin awarding important contracts for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Presumably, they were also not skulking around the Department of Health and Human Services, writing the memos that delayed, until February of this year, the deadline for states to declare whether they’d be running their own exchanges.
I predicted in December 2012 that the exchanges would not be up and running on time with minimal knowledge of how the contracts and budgeting were being run, because the administration was being pretty closed-mouthed about those things. Was I prophetic? Hardly. I just didn’t see how the administration could make things work in the allotted time frame.
You don’t need to sabotage the incompetent.