The disaster that is HealthCare.gov

President Barack Obama is having a President George W. Bush moment.

Or is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius having a FEMA Director Michael Brown moment?

Actually, it’s both.

Days after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern United States in 2005, and well after the world was aware of the scope of the storm’s destruction and people’s suffering, Bush famously turned to Brown and said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Thing is, Brown wasn’t and hadn’t. At least 1,833 people died during the storm and its aftermath, and it is now widely acknowledged that FEMA was unprepared to respond to a disaster of that scale. Its slow reaction was partly responsible for unnecessary suffering, filth and death.

In the end, the federal government acknowledged it wasn’t prepared to deal with a storm the size and strength of Katrina, and that more could have been done better and more quickly. And, now, Brown is defending himself in his book, “Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm.” He puts the responsibility for FEMA’s failure on Bush’s shoulders, saying the president just didn’t “get” how bad the situation was.

Fast-forward eight years to the disaster that is HealthCare.gov.

The federal Web portal for Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act launched Oct. 1, but the site was so ridiculously inadequate, so frustratingly slow that a tiny total of six people managed to navigate the site and get signed up for health care that day.

And it hasn’t gotten much better since. In fact, a month later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can’t accurately calculate how many people have signed up. Makes a person wonder how the health plans these people have signed up for will work.

Obama is taking responsibility for getting HealthCare.gov fixed. Sebelius is also taking responsibility for getting it fixed.

But who is taking responsibility for screwing it up so badly?

Knowing this is such an important — and controversial — make-or-break thing for Obama’s signature law, how could he just turn a blind eye to it and not insist on successful results and periodic updates during the development stage? How could Sebelius, knowing the success of this project rested with her and her department?

Obama and Sebelius have each blamed the defects on software development companies, but it was their job to find these companies and set goals along the way. Some of that was done, but not nearly enough. In fact, at one point DHHS tested HealthCare.gov by logging on 200 people and the thing crashed almost immediately. And, yet, someone somewhere said it was good to go: Let’s just see what happens.

Stupid. Political. Mistake.

It would have been far less damaging for the feds to say the site didn’t work, we don’t know why and we’re going to delay the launch for a month (or more) until we get it right. But that didn’t happen, and this demonstration of incompetence and resulting public distrust leaves the whole ACA open to exactly what its critics were looking for: proof that it won’t work.

The government set deadlines for people to sign up for ACA and provided guidelines to help them understand what they had to do. Then it didn’t provide a registration platform that works. How many times is the average person going to attempt to log on, fail to get registered and decide they’re sick of trying. It’s a prescription for lost confidence in government’s ability to run this thing.

And now, Obama says, the feds will bring in the best, the heads of Google, Microsoft and Apple, for help. Why didn’t he bring in these top-notch people from the start?

It’s not like it’s an impossible job.

Washington state has signed up 49,000 people on its health benefit exchange and another 92,000 have started the application process. The United States government estimates it has registered about 4,000 people during the same time.

How did Washington state get this done?

What about Massachusetts, which has a system that works pretty well? The idea for ACA came from the Bay State. Maybe the feds could have gotten some computer ideas there, too.

Obama over-promised and didn’t deliver. He didn’t understand his own plan and how it was going to work.

Remember when he said signing up for health care would be as easy as shopping on Amazon?

It isn’t. Buying health insurance is ungodly complicated. A buyer’s income has to be verified and the site is supposed to generate estimates based on multiple factors, many of which change depending on where a person lives. It’s not like buying a frying pan or a book on Amazon.

Of course, the feds have provided a workaround for people who have not been able to sign up. They can call or apply by paper application. Thing is, a paper application isn’t going to give a shopper any comparisons of different plans, which is why registration was pushed to the Web: It’s interactive.

Obama has now said the “fix” for HealthCare.gov will be at least a month away, which indicates it will take more than a little tweaking to fix and is further evidence that planning for this program was so far off base. Worse, another month of repair is going to bring us dangerously close to the Jan. 1 launch of ACA-mandated health-care networks, creating unnecessary stress for those who want to buy in.

Every criticism raised about HealthCare.gov and its implementation is more than due.

If Apple launched a product and it failed and then Apple announced it would be fixed in a month, customers would walk away. That’s not acceptable in any kind of business, but health-care consumers don’t have the choice of walking away. They just have to wait, disillusioned and confused, until the feds develop a fix.

Kind of like so many people waited for help after Katrina.

But there and then, at least Brown had the good sense to resign.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

RONALD RIML's picture

Bush lied, and over 400,00 died* in the Iraq War.

Obama is accused of lying, and how many have died???

* http://rt.com/op-edge/iraq-war-deaths-study-count-355/

What have the Republican Health Care proposals been besides 'Get sick and die?"

Jason Theriault's picture

I was almost worried

I was almost worried that the GOP was going to gain traction on repealing ObamaCare. But then again there was a shooting. You know, if the GOP help implement reasonable gun control measures, you might be able to focus on other issues.

Watch - the ObamaCare website is going to be back-burnered in the news long enough for them to fix it.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

ObamaCar

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Promises, promises.

HEALTHCARE.GOV USERS WARN OF SECURITY RISK, BREACH OF PRIVACY

Justin Hadley logged on to HealthCare.gov to evaluate his insurance options after his health plan was canceled. What he discovered was an apparent security flaw that disclosed eligibility letters addressed to individuals from another state.

So much for security for the American people.

STICKER SHOCK OFTEN FOLLOWS INSURANCE CANCELLATION

Dean Griffin liked the health insurance he purchased for himself and his wife three years ago and thought he'd be able to keep the plan even after the federal Affordable Care Act took effect. But the 64-year-old recently received a letter notifying him the plan was being canceled because it didn't cover certain benefits required under the law. The Griffins ... pay $770 monthly for their soon-to-be-terminated health care plan with a $2,500 deductible. The cheapest plan they found on their state insurance exchange was a so-called bronze plan charging a $1,275 monthly premium with deductibles totaling $12,700.

So much for promises of affordability and stability. This scam is nothing but a bunch of worthless promises that are unraveling one by one.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mike ? Sunday 12:12 hst Q:

Mike ? Sunday 12:12 hst
Q: What's your health care plan ?
A: __________________ ?
http://www.mainecare.com/ <- not an endorsement LSJ ®
Oh ! You say you do not have one , yet ?
http://www.healthplans.com/ <- also not an endorsement
Get one • 
/hth , Dr. Dosh for us taxpayers and health care owners :D

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Dean is out of what percentage or do you just pick and choose

one or two stories that do not base all the actual facts of the nature of his story?

The Truth About Those Canceled Health Plans

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/health-insurance-cancellations_...

The cheapest plan they found on their state insurance exchange was a so-called bronze plan charging a $1,275 monthly premium with deductibles totaling $12,700.???
BS...BS....BS

The cheapest is to what comparison of what they had to what they want and also under what variables of the present health conditions or of past... of HOW many and who was on the plan....DO YOU HAVE those details....NOPE.....

I sat on the board for 6 years dealing with a $1.4 BILLION trust fund for Healthcare for our membership and in no F'in terms that is ever possible accept in your small mind of calculations....

There are plans at that monthly premium but the deductible is if they had a family of 6 or 7 with a an annual $2000 deduct for each and the other factor is what is the maximum out of pocket that is also inclusive to the package.

Again you are swallowing Faux drippings for fuel....and those like on Fox that Hannity had lying to his same BS you just posted...

http://www.alternet.org/media/fox-news-coverage-obamacare-was-extremely-...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Another point of fact

That in the article they claimed the coverage was in other states..In or Out of network? .So are the plans to compatible to In Network and Out of network with a higher percentage cost of the providers they choose or do not choose...there are so many variables and without having the actual facts to compare face t face their telltale is possibly all if not the truth.

Who was the provider, Heath Partners, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Aetna, ETC, who, what and where?

What was the time and age and present health condition of them in contrast to the old to the new, and were they in the crack of grandfathered or not? SO many questions as to really WHY? Or could it be that they laid it out that way, since they are Republicans and hate the idea of a black insurance agency?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The huffington post article

The huffington post article says the a small percentage of Americans will lose their current healthcare plans. Well, the small percentage they are referring to is about 19 Million people. In absolute numbers, that is large.

Moreover, when the President said that if you like your plan, you can keep it, he did not have conditions wrapped around that statement. He did assert a "period" on several occasions, so he lied.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

In contrast

Absolute 19 to 350 ...is not a huge number even if you use the real number of 19 million to lets say 150 million still small number in real numbers.

19 out of 150 is very small and all of those are not going to not have any insurance, just modification and policy change....I can also tell you since plans and policy changes annually, that once the larger pool is established with positive numbers those premiums will be further reduced.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I consider that millions will

I consider that millions will get a cancellation notice a bit more than policy modification. It does not change the fact the president lied either.

"Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law."

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/28/21213547-obama-admin-...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

It's the old Spock adage

You have to sacrifice the few for the many...

Let's hypothetically say that you're in a position of power, and that only you were able to make a decision. There is no way to avoid this situation. Here are your options:

1. Condemn 1% of the population (population being 100,000 people), and save the 99% from suffering (poverty, disease, pain, poor living standards, etc).

2. Save the 1% of the population (population still 100,000 people), and condemn 99% of the population to a life of suffering (poverty, disease, pain, poor living standards, etc).

Which option do you take?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. Your question presents a

P.S. Your question presents a false dichotomy, which is not a cogent argument.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

One example to many types but you would be the 39%

MARK GRAVEL's picture

1. You cannot protect people

1. You cannot protect people from disease for disease is part of being human.
2. You cannot protect people from pain for pain is part of being human.
3. You cannot protect people from poverty nor poor living standards for poverty, not the faux American version, is part of being human. Moreover, if you are really concerned about poverty, you would not be addressing America. Given that you only think about self, or the American version of poverty, you really are not concern about poverty whatsoever.

I don't live in a fantasy world thinking I can stop disease, pain, or poverty.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You do know what hypothetical means...SFB

Let's hypothetically say...was at the beginning of the one example to many ....notice ETC....

Given that you only think about self, as MR. Smarty Pants....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"Given that you only think

"Given that you only think about self"

Actually I'm thinking about the greater good. Tackling the spending issue now will create a strong and solid future. It is in fact you generation who are selfish ones creating debt for future generations to satisfy your selfish needs today.

Apparently you are okay with passing your debt to the future.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Apparently

Apparently you are okay with passing your debt to the future.

It has always been passed on,,,OH wait until Bush spent the surplus.....

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

It makes you wonder

"It makes you wonder if the website doesn't work if the health care plans will work the same way". Really?? What does one thing have to do with the other. And how does having no health care coverage trump having it ? The real question is do we have the right to let insurance carriers bamboozle us into fraudulent insurance coverage that doesn't cover most illnesses, can be cancelled arbitrarily, has low caps, has discriminating rates, and yet costs almost as much as the real plans. The people who liked these plans are the ones who had them but never had occasion to file a claim or to have a major illness. Once you get sick and go bankrupt in spite of all the premiums you paid for years to the insurance carrier, they lose their appeal.

Claudette Therriault's picture

It's the web site that i broken not the Health Care Act

People are going nuts over these terrible costs they will have to pay our of pocket. Have they looked to see what their subsidy is? Probably not!!!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You Might Hate Obamacare, But It's Saved These People's Lives

Miss M. Turner couldn't pay for a tumor surgery until Obamacare came along because insurance providers decided she had a pre-existing condition.

Aimee lost her vision while working two jobs. Forty percent of her income went toward for an expensive insurance plan that her employer demanded she paid for.

And Jeannie Page, a healthy 37-year-old with two very common conditions, finally has healthcare.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/05/i-am-obamacare-_n_4046470.html

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claudette , Sunday 12:17

Claudette , Sunday 12:17 hst
No , we haven't
What is it again ?
A: ______________
http://www.healthplans.com/
/s, Dr. Dosh
btw - We agree with Claire •

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You couldn't just do an

You couldn't just do an editorial on oBAMa's legacy of incompetence. No, you had to throw a few Bush moments about Katrina in there for 'balance'. It's surprising you didn't mention Bush's bungling of our response to 9-11-01 to really add some 'balance' to your cheap shot editorial. Why not throw some Nixon, Carter and Clinton 'moments' in there to really point out that oBAMa's bungling of his presidency might not be so out of the norm after all? Many of us, however, are aware that oBAMa's incompetency is quite capable of standing on its own merits without Bush or any other president's 'moments' for support.

Steve  Dosh's picture

The disaster that is HealthCare.gov

Mainers 15:00 ? hst 13.11.02
Is Maine even part or parcel to this system ?
http://www.heathcare.gov
Quite frankly , i've lost touch and thought your governor was going to set up his own ME health care free choice system a lá Texas , Alabama , and Mississippi
SNAFUs are nothing new to the federal government
In fact , it is much ado about nothing . When the US Federal government contracts out we have to have three bidders ( we don't always go with the lowest one either ) , and a whole holy host of other rules , regulations , covenants, laws , directives , earmarks and . .you name it
When i was in charge of y2k for a certain un-named federal agency they were all worried about the clock turning over that the end of the year , midnight 12.31.99
My solution was simply , " Take a bunch of our " all Windows® 95 " hardware with all our software programs installed , set the clock forward to that date , let it click over , and then see what happens ."
Nothing happened
What Republicans ?
You are not going to buy any insurance ?
Don't drive on the same roads as me then , t y v m
Go to Canada
It's our law •
hth, Steve

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Seems to me, not too long

Seems to me, not too long ago, Lepage was reported to have said he wouldn't "lift a finger" to help out with this ObamaScare fiasco and the feds are involved here. Yeah, I'll be happy to go to Canada.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Carol , Sunday 12:20 Please

Carol , Sunday 12:20
Please do that and save us some $$ tyvm . Be sure to watch this movie ƒirst --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicko
Perhaps you have Hahahah ! Canada's medical system is much better than our's , as is communist Cuba's and ? 16 other countries ( most of them in Europe ) facts ; " The United States life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990, ranks it 50th among 221 nations, and 27th out of the 34 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 199 " ref :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States " We have the highest standard of low life in the world ." Sen. Ted Kennedy [ r i p ] author of No Child Left Behind legislation http://www.nclb.gov encouraging education •
Aloha from Pahoa , HI USA
/s Dr. Dosh :D
" Ignor - ance is not bliss "

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I would think the SJ would be more informed.....

Like everyone else, the SJ, has decided to take the whole prospect of helping millions of people get affordable health care, and trash the whole thing because the websites don't work.
Apple and Microsoft routinely released products before they were truly ready to run. That would explain all the upgrades and updates needed after installing a product.
The websites can and I'm sure, will be fixed. if it takes a month or if it takes six months. How many years have people been waiting for the opportunity to get affordable health insurance. If you've ever been denied insurance due to preexisting conditions, you wouldn't mind waiting for the fix. When the fix is made the timelines can be redrawn, it's not rocket science.
The Republican Party, or more precisely, the Tea Party radicals are destined to destroy "Obama Care". Destroy it, only because it's the idea of the man who beat their candidate. You don't mess with Southern Tea Party radicals.
They're not concerned with the millions of lives this program could save, they just care about playing politics. It's all a game to them, none of them will go without if this program folds.
No, we just have a bunch of ignorant, southern radicals, who happen to have huge inherited bank accounts. They brag amongst themselves of shutting the Government down, of almost destroying the American economy. For what, again it's just a game. they are playing games and everyone of us is a pawn in this game. In the end the only losers will be us if we allow them to win. Articles like this one just feeds their fire. It's irresponsible articles like this one that give them the false impression that just maybe, they are somehow accomplishing their goal. The problem is, if they somehow do accomplish their goals, this country will go down the crapper on the first flush.......................

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Apple and Microsoft ...

... are not funded by taxpayers. They take some profit (gasp!) and some dirty money from evil, greedy investors and fund their own research, development, manufacturing, distribution and web-sites. If one of those private companies had rolled out new product with as much incompetence as ObamaCare received, coupled with high management's claim that its product was the country's salvation, at the very least, heads would roll.

What will happen here? Nothing. From the president on down, no one takes any real responsibility. They'll just write off the $600 million and start pumping in newly printed money. And, as Jay "Baghdad Bob" Carney has already spun it - as he always spins it - they are refocusing on the future to help the American people. The American people are going broke paying for all that refocusing and help - not to mention all that "affordable" healthcare.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Hey there Mr. Sunshine................

Which would you rather have? heads rolling all over the place, or, eventual insurance young people can afford, affordable health care for the elderly and people otherwise denied coverage. You ever have a child to old to be on your insurance but unable to acquire their own insurance? You ever tried applying for health insurance only to be told your irregular heart beat, well that kind of blows your chances right there. You are denied health insurance due to the one thing that is probably going to make you wish you had health insurance.
All it's going to take is one major surgery. Hey what happens when, after scraping up enough to finally pay that colonoscopy bill, you find out they found something. Your going to need three or four more of those fun little excursions. I'll tell you what, they don't give those away. What happens when, while your at that low wage job with no insurance, your seven year old son accidentally runs through a sliding glass door?
Actually it's not what happen when the incident happens. It's the rest of your life. You will receive the care you need, but you have just surrendered any chance of ever getting ahead. You will be working way past retirement just to pay the interest on those bills.
Had there been an affordable insurance program in place, none of this would have ever happened. But no, the website crapped out, so we'll just take the lifetime of paying bills instead. It's easier...............................

Bob White's picture

So Lets do this

Why didn't we just make something for these small groups of people? Why did we have to reinvent the wheel? What I have heard these people you talk about make up about 20 million or so wouldn't been easier to make that work then trying to change the insurance for all Americans.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

In a nut shell Frank

Still in its Beta, for those of us that know of technology. Like all other applications set into flight, the huge data forum that it is, will come in for a clear landing --for it will be gear down and safe landing on the tarmac.

As it is well known that software apps have hiccups, burps, and then it settles down and get better. From our own experiences we leaned from using DOS, to Win 95 and beyond.

Pretty damn sad when you have Traitors, yes TRAITORS, that want progress and survival of Americans that need affordable, regulated health care to collapse. So we have UN--AMERICANS wanting it to fail. This really sends a clear message to the world how we are not UNITED, because of the unpatriotic repubs and baggers. They would prefer that the world can see us a failure with the Repubs/baggers throwing in the wrenches and the shutdown of America and putting the US into a tail spin of totally crashing and burning for them to be happy and gloat, to close down Obamacare, for seeing to it that Americans DO suffer with how it use to be remaining stagnant with an out of control healthcare system.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"Still in its Beta, for those

"Still in its Beta, for those of us that know of technology."

SM, if you knew technology, you would know that Beta testing is not offered to all customers. Moreover, you sure as hell don't charge for it - a reference the tax penalty.

Lastly, how would customers react to this debacle in the private sector? Yes, that is right, they would shop somewhere else.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Hey SFB

The second stage, called beta testing , generally involves a limited number of external users. Those external users are say 10 to 19 million in contrast to 150 and more millions...so it has surpassed it's Alpha stage and is on its Beta to a final...There has been no charge for using the site, again you love to lie and stretch the truth and bend it to your conformity...tax penalty is not a usage fee for logging on and browsing....get real...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So what technology did

So what technology did Washington use to limit external users other than crashing? Seems to be there where no limits. Moreover, they just went prime time, and it failed.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

I would hardly call those who

I would hardly call those who have opinions that are different from yours "traitors." Just shows how much of a bubble you live in.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Opinions versus actions

Are people that actually cause and try to effect and take action is not Opinions....One is thought the other is actual motivated actions....your bubble is you have no clue as what is actually the difference between the two.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

I think you're wrong, Carol.

Jerry is obviously very well qualified to tell us what it's like inside a nut shell.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The one thing that gets me..........

All these nay-sayers, complaining that "ObamaCare" is a failure from the get-go. They claim they predicted and have proven that "ObamaCare" is a failure. Fact of the matter is, this is just as close as they can come to being vindicated in their rhetoric. Fact of the matter is, Obama Care, aka, Affordable Care Act , is just fine. The website is what failed. not unlike other highly anticipated roll outs. For some reason, Win95 comes to mind. Wasn't that one kind of in the gutter before it even made it to the store shelves? So as did Win95,(sort of) this to shall bounce back or forward or whatever...........

Bob White's picture

The most powerful country in

The most powerful country in the world and we cant build a website that works. It all starts with the leader.

Claudette Therriault's picture

The greatest failure (after the web site)

Is the lack of understanding of the Health Care Act as well as those in Congress who have made it their mission to make if fail. And, what about the states that did not except expanded health care? Like and anything else, it was fined tuned to work until the GOP and local governors decided to tweak it to suit themselves.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claudette ? Yes . That would

Claudette ?
Yes .
That would be the Governors of Maine and Texas ( to name two [ 2 ] )
/s Dr. Dosh
http://www.pnhp.org/news/articles-of-interest

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank ? 15:00 Saturday HST

Frank ? 15:00 Saturday HST ? 
It's true . And Adobe® just got hacked of 186,000,000 ( one hundred eighty six million ) passwords the other day
Go to their site now and see if you need a patch everyone , the ' latest update .' btw - WInblows ® black Tuesday is in three days , also ( when they put out their updates ) http://www.adobe.com
Personally , i do not trust my computer and cell phone security to private contractors , be they Microsloth ® ( with it's built in hardware trap doors ) , Apple ® , No-Kia ®, Lucky Goldstar ( LG ) , Samsung ® , Lenovo ® ( Red Chinese ) or whomever
These foolish contractors who screwed up the US federal system launch have it coming to them and will be let go , i.e. , fired . We used to call them ' Beltway Bandits ' ; CSC ® , Oracle ® , UNISYS ® , and many , many others
ref; " southern radicals , "
Those white guys are probably better referred to as " tea bagging knee jerk - reactionaries - who just say no ," but , then again , that's just my opinion , and quoting a New Englander , " I never dared to be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old. "
Robert Frost
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/conservative.html#GRGghmtyqM2...
hth, Dr. Dosh

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