Those of us who call Massachusetts home still affectionately remember the “Big Dig”, the massive restructuring of the highway system through Boston and which we, our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren will be paying for many years to come. The project was fraught with problems, graft, political favors and mis-management resulting in more and more money being thrown into this hole in the ground. And even after all that money, it still collapsed. It seems the Healthcare.gov website could be another such fiasco, our newest “Big Dig.”
On October 1, the individual mandate portion of Obamacare began with much pomp and circumstance. This, as well as the rest of Obamacare has been touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread by its supporters even though the main cheerleader, Barack Obama has granted waivers for his campaign contributors and friends who have asked for them and Congress itself doesn’t have to abide by the rules. By the end of the day on October 1, and every day since then, it has become clear that maybe, just maybe, Obamacare and the individual mandate might not have been quite ready to save the world.
Let’s look at just the problems with the Healthcare.gov website for starters. Our president keeps telling us, in fact he told us just last week, what good Obamacare is going to do, how many people are signing up for it, how much money they are saving, and on and on. The problem is this just isn’t true. We have report after report on people who cannot sign into the system, how they are booted off once they can get on and how they receive error message after error message until finally they give up. Even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebillius can’t seem to make it work. For those lucky enough to actually sign up and get past the first step, they are finding the promised savings just aren’t there. They can’t keep their existing plans, they can’t keep their existing doctors and the cost is more than what they are paying now, all things which Barack Obama promised wouldn’t happen. Even after our president said all was okay and we could use a toll free number to register, we found out that the toll free number wasn’t the right one. And those people standing behind the President at his Rose Garden address? Well, they really hadn’t had much success either. Is the President just uninformed, clueless or intentionally trying to mislead us?
The government paid over $650 million for this website, a website that doesn’t work. And now we learn this week that those who were responsible for developing it didn’t test it before implementation and in fact never even talked to each other about it. There are also stories about certain government bureaucrats who knew there were going to be problems and the system wouldn’t work, yet decided not to do anything about it so they wouldn’t get in trouble. After all this is their leader’s baby. These aren’t just little bugs in the system, this is a major system failure.
Here are the questions which need to be asked:
- Who is responsible for this failure? Who will be held accountable for this failure? Will anybody be accountable or will this like so many other fiascos in this administration just be swept under the rug and ignored by the mainstream media?
- How much money will we have to throw into this project to fix it? The President is bringing in outside help, will they work for nothing? Will the original contractors be held responsible and will they be forced to return the money?
- Where was the President in all this? Are his subordinates so afraid of him they won’t tell him what is really going on in his administration? Did they in fact know of the problems beforehand, did he?
Like the “Big Dig” in Massachusetts, we have another project which cost too much to begin with, which does not work, which according to many the only solution is to throw more and more money into it and which no one is taking responsibility for its failure. If the government can’t get the website working can we really expect them to be able to get the rest of Obamacare right? Barack Obama can’t blame this one on George Bush.
Commentary by Paul Roy