December 3, 2013

OBAMACARE’S NEW GOAL: Stay Alive Until 2015.

Here are a few things I think we can say: It’s working better now than it was two months ago; we don’t know whether that’s good enough; and the fact that the administration is choosing odd metrics, such as comparing the performance of the site to October rather than how you’d actually like it to perform, is probably not a happy omen. (As I believe Scott Adams once noted, irrelevant comparisons are a great favorite of salesmen with mediocre products. “Sure, 37 mph isn’t great for a sports car, but you have to compare that to hopping!”)

And I do think this tells us something else important: The administration has given up on success, as it might once have defined it. The object is no longer 7 million people signed up through the exchanges, with 2.7 million of them young and healthy, and the health-care cost curve bending back toward the earth. It is to keep the program alive until 2015. The administration’s priorities are, first, to keep Democrats from undoing the individual mandate or otherwise crippling the law; second, to keep insurers from raising premiums or exiting the marketplace; third, to tamp down loose talk about the failures on the exchanges; and, only fourth, to get to the place where it used to think it would be this year, with lots of people signed up for affordable insurance. It is now measuring the program’s success not by whether it meets its goals, but by whether it survives at all. And all of its choices are oriented toward this new priority.

Sounds like a recipe for success!