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October 22, 2013

"Glitches" Aside, the ACA is "Good". And You Should Be More Patient.

On the long drive home from work last night, the Editorial Staff flipped from radio station to radio station in a futile attempt to avoid hearing Barack Obama offer vague, hope-y promises that that the hope and change he promised in 2008 aren't nearly as bad as they seem.

They are, in fact, good. Really good. We know this because the takeaway - "Health care reform is good for you" - was relentlessly, remorselessly, repeatedly driven home:

I want you to know what’s available to you and why it may be a good deal for you

...It’s really good.

...Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill or your cable bill, and that’s a good deal.

...[People under 35 in Maryland and Connecticut] understand that they can get a good deal at low costs, have the security of health care, and this is not just for old folks like me -- that everybody needs good quality health insurance

... The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good.

...it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by [those insignificant rollout glitches that you should be more patient with] than I am -- precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work.

... here’s the bottom line. The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal.

...People can now get good insurance.

...it’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success. And if the product is good, they're willing to be patient.

In what could be seen as an eerie echo of the heady days of the 2008 campaign, the President's closing remarks were punctuated by the collapse of a pregnant woman standing behind him on the stage. As she began to waver, the President of the United States turned from the podium and steadied her in his strong arms. Verily we say unto you, America: not even the fall of a sparrow shall go unnoted by this administration. Admittedly, there's nothing new about women fainting at the sound of The Lightworker's deft rhetorical stylings. That sort of thing has been going on since 2008:

I'll be the first to admit that I enjoy the sheer pleasure of listening to Obama speak, his cadences and crescendos, the optimism I've demonstrated myself when writing self-help books. Yes we can! His speeches stir me like a full-bodied symphony—although I sometimes can't recall his positions on particular issues later.

Of course back then, the Faithful fainted from sheer ecstasy (or what Science calls "elevation"):

Elevation evokes in us "a desire to become a better person, or to lead a better life." The 58 million McCain voters might say that the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was an airy promise of future virtue and moral beauty. And that the soaring feeling his voters had of having made the world a better place consisted of the act of placing their index fingers on a touch screen next to the words Barack Obama. They might be on to something. Haidt's research shows that elevation is good at provoking a desire to make a difference but not so good at motivating real action.

Now they faint from boredom. Or low blood sugar that could be successfully treated if they only had affordable health care. Or something.

The President assures us that the Affordable Care Act is more than just a website that doesn't work. It's also an 800 number that refers you back to the website that doesn't work. Or terminates in a busy signal. Or a message to call back later.

If there's a theme in all of this, is that no one involved in passing or rolling out the Affordable Care Act has time to think through the details. These are Busy People doing Important Things. Their lack of careful planning is everywhere you look - from a Congress that snootily informed us we'd have to pass the bill before we could see what was in it to a front end so poorly thought out that it essentially overloaded itself because it was designed that way to a President who confidently predicted millions of applicants and then blamed the website's failure on exactly the kind of "unanticipated demand" he had been telling us for years that he was expecting, to a White House that didn't know when their own mandate penalty deadline kicked in.

Obama would like us to believe that the website failures are unimportant. After all, the website is only a small part of The Wonder That Is ObamaCare.

There's just one problem with his arguments. Software, by its very nature, demands careful thought about the requirements. It demands the ability to think ahead - to foresee (and plan for) potential problems and put measures in place to handle them. And the software - which is, by the President's own admission, "only part of the ACA" doesn't do this. It failed because its designers did not carefully, methodically think their way through just part of how this new law would be implemented.

If this worries you, be patient. A mere three weeks ago, the President assured us that the HealthCare.gov problems were being blown out of proportion by wicked Tea Partiers. There were no serious problems with the site's architecture - the minor "glitches" were entirely due to unexpectedly (!) high demand. The President said this, knowing full well that light pre-launch load testing of the website had failed miserably:

Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health ­insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.

Despite the failed test, federal health officials plowed ahead.

Since that time, the President's views have evolved significantly. This tends to happen whenever his previous well thought-out position becomes politically untenable or is contradicted by the evidence. The problems he knew about before the site was launched, far from being trivial and overhyped, are now "unacceptable", and "no one is madder than he is" about them. Not even the hundreds of thousands of currently insured Americans who are now receiving cancellation letters on the policies the President promised them they could keep.

The failures of lesser beings really make the President angry. You, however, should be more patient because the Affordable Care Act is good for you. Really, really good! Just look at all the people it's helping!

... I’m pretty sure I can buy health insurance directly from my current carrier, without going through the exchanges. At first glance, it looks like I can get a policy that will cost about the same as the one I have now but with much higher out-of-pocket costs. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that. Seriously thrilled about knowing I won’t have to choose between using the exchanges and going without coverage. Sarcastically thrilled about getting less for my money.

Get a grip, America.

Posted by Cassandra at October 22, 2013 06:31 AM

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Comments

It's kinda hard to get a grip when the original law started out at just under 2500 pages and has since added another 18,000 in additional rules and regulations. Not to mention a computer system that was budgeted for $92 million that has now ballooned to over $360 million -- and it still doesn't work!
I'd like to *get a grip*, but I'd probably be thrown in the slammer afterward.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 22, 2013 02:45 PM

I tried t have a discussion about Obamacare with a close friend a couple of weeks ago. He's a very bright M.D., and I love him like a brother, but we couldn't seem to communicate on this subject. He thinks it's great that everyone will be able to get insurance. I think that its the worst law ever even drafted, much less enacted. That's not just two people having different viewpoints, that's two people having entirely different conversations about the same subject. Now multiply us by 330 million.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 22, 2013 03:48 PM

It won't matter how big a disaster Obamacare is. It won't matter how many people lose their current insurance. It won't matter how many people pay through the nose for less coverage. It won't matter how hard it will be to actually get treatment due to the shortages.

Obamacare will *still* be better because it'll be run by noble government employees who have taken that underpaid and thankless job because of their love for the American people and whom are free to "do the right thing" as their inability to be fired frees them from retaliation by penny pinching profit mongers in the free market who will gladly kill granny if it makes them a buck.

Just like we see at the IRS.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 22, 2013 03:48 PM

"the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was"

in fact nothing of the sort - it was emotional banalaties and hucksterism designed to separate your vote from your good sense.

Posted by: RonF at October 22, 2013 04:23 PM

"the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was"...in fact nothing of the sort - it was emotional banalaties and hucksterism designed to separate your vote from your good sense.

RonF, you ignorant slut :p

Like spd and Yu-Ain, you clearly do not understand Hope and Change. It doesn't have to be *real* hope or change - the mere promise is enough to elevate most folks right out of their shoes.

Walking on air, we are :p

Posted by: Cass at October 22, 2013 04:26 PM

It's kinda hard to get a grip when the original law started out at just under 2500 pages and has since added another 18,000 in additional rules and regulations.

Whoa there, little lady. You appear to have been listening to those nutjobs in the Tea Party and their incessant fulmination about imaginary glitches that I've just admitted are actually both real and unacceptable.

*sigh*

If only you folks were smart enough to hold two utterly contradictory ideas in your heads at the same time... ah, then you'd appreciate the magnificence of my brilliant strategery.

Posted by: Barack Obama at October 22, 2013 04:29 PM

"Whoa there, little lady....If only you folks were smart enough to hold two utterly contradictory ideas in your heads at the same time... ah, then you'd appreciate the magnificence of my brilliant strategery."

First of all, thank you for that.
0>;~}
Second, I believe that what you just said is what "professionals" would call schizophrenia.
Just sayin'.
Keepin' it real here, yanno.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at October 22, 2013 05:52 PM

But Mr. President, I can hold two utterly contradictory ideas in my head at the same time (For example: life & death; night & day; sex & marriage). What I can't do is successfully implement them both simultaneously. Well, not all of them, anyway.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 22, 2013 06:00 PM

But Mr. President, I can hold two utterly contradictory ideas in my head at the same time (For example: life & death; night & day; sex & marriage). What I can't do is successfully implement them both simultaneously.

Which is why I vastly prefer to just talk about hope and change. Actually doing something about it is hard. And it would expose me to criticism.

The beauty of my approach to governance is that there's always someone else to blame. Tea Party terrorists. Underlings. Or in this case, sending American jobs to other countries (which, during the last presidential campaign, was deemed downright un-American but is coming in right handy now that everyone's blaming Canada instead of me).

Posted by: Barack Obama at October 22, 2013 06:44 PM

OK guys, you are pressing the limits of my sarc tolerance. The price of admission for me to qualify in my warfare specialty kind be summed up by an ability to willingly be fed into a 10,000 psi (emotion depriving) extrusion press; on the boat it was light sarc to mock the guy experiencing his first Christmas (anniversary, birth of my first child/son) underwater.

. . . at least those *ssh*l*s were my shipmates, and most of those that talked had already been through those experiences themselves.

The guys at the top pushing this little endeavor are not even trying to suggest they are willing to suffer the same experience. This is the *exact* same attitude/behavior as medieval nobles

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at October 22, 2013 09:50 PM

Sorry :)

I know it's infuriating. Sarcasm is how I vent anger. The madder I get, the more I tend to joke about things.

What doesn't kill us... you know the drill.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 22, 2013 10:15 PM

Obama care is designed to "fail". Its long term purpose is to drive private insurance companies out of business, thus paving the way for the real objective: Government health care covered probably by a fig leaf of private insurance (which will be funded by and take its orders from the government goons). The Obama care people know exactly what they are doing IMO.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at October 23, 2013 09:02 AM