The PJ Tatler

Why Obamacare Never Had a Chance in Hell of Working

One of the more interesting analyses from some on the right since the Obamacare rollout is that the massive flaws in the law are the result of deliberate design. A feature, not a bug. The system is designed to fail so that a single-payer health insurance regime can be established.

Tom Blumer sums up this theory:

Now we’re supposed to believe, even when given virtually unlimited resources, a 42-month head start, and another three months to make corrections, that the people in our government and the contractors who serve it are so breathtakingly stupid and incredibly incompetent that they can’t properly set up Obamacare’s bureaucracy, create functioning online and offline consumer interfaces, and build the systems required to communicate and interact with insurance companies participating in its federal exchanges.

I certainly don’t.

There’s been plenty written about the ineptness, the mismanagement, the stupidity of contractors, not to mention the political calculations that caused delays which doomed the website design from the start. (Rules governing coverage mandates were delayed until after the 2012 election, giving insurance companies a matter of weeks to design policies and website designers precious few days to write them into the website database.)

I think there’s enough proof that the problems with the website and the law were inevitable and not the result of some Machiavellian plot. The most successful conspiracies occur when information is radically compartmentalized so that only a handful of people can see the big picture. In Obamacare’s case, dozens — perhaps hundreds — of people would have had to have knowledge of the planned failure in order to pull it off: administrators, contractors, the employees writing code (500 million lines of it). The chances of someone snitching are far to great to even attempt pulling off a conspiracy of this kind.

The administration would also have had to figure that there was a way to somehow convince the Republican House to vote for a single-payer system. Some may view the Republican House as a bunch of milquetoast, namby-pamby RINOs. But they also have the survival instincts of jungle cats. Does anyone really think they would vote for a single-payer system despite the certainty that they would be clobbered in a primary?

Besides, would any politician set out to deliberately fail so massively? It’s far more reasonable and logical to accept the fact that the administration’s incompetent and negligent rollout of the law was due to stupidity and not design.

To buttress that point, let’s go back to the time that the law was being written. Michael Bernstam of the Hoover Institution makes the case — quite convincingly — that the very nature of Obamacare sowed the seeds of its own destruction:

The problem with ObamaCare is not that it is poorly designed or sloppily implemented. The problem is in the nature of things: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as it has been envisaged, is inherently impossible. To see this, forget ObamaCare for the moment. Think health care in general. Health care can be many things for many people:

It can be universal (extended to all people) or selective (available to some people).
It can be comprehensive (covers all conditions and cures at any age) or rationed.
It can be affordable or prohibitively expensive.

But there is one thing that a health care system cannot be. It cannot be everything for everyone.It cannot simultaneously be 1) universal, 2) comprehensive, and 3) affordable.This is the impossible trinity of objectives.

If it is universal and comprehensive, it is prohibitively expensive and hence unaffordable.
The only way to make it universal and affordable is to ration services, but then the system is not comprehensive.
If it is comprehensive and affordable, it can be such only for those who can afford it, and hence not universal.

As in the Omnipotence Paradox, even God can do only what is in the nature of His (and our) universe and cannot do what is ontologically impossible, viz., cannot make 1+1=3. Let alone the 44th president of the United States.

Those who wish to posit the notion that congressional Democrats deliberately wrote a law that was designed to fail would have to find one or two of them who actually read the darn thing. Only a handful of Hill staffers and industry lobbyists were probably aware of everything that was in the bill. Hence, Nancy Pelosi’s famous advice that we have to pass it to know what’s in it.

Rather than giving up on Obamacare entirely, I think it is far more likely that a massive bailout of the insurance industry would be proposed if there’s a meltdown. Some Republicans might go along with a bailout because the only alternative would be a single-payer system. And there are still a few Senate Democrats who would oppose a single-payer alternative to Obamacare.

Using outcomes to posit conspiracy just doesn’t work. There must be some evidence not based on speculation to buttress a case for conspiracy. Either the White House is hiding that evidence of deliberate malfeasance spectacularly well, or it doesn’t exist.

Which is more likely?