By Denis Storey
Well, we got what we wanted. What is it they say about being careful what you wish for?
After three weeks of more bugs than a Microsoft product launch, “the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president's health care overhaul law,” according to the AP report.
Guess we know what that meeting with the carriers was all about last week.
The six-week delay came quietly at the end of the day in the form of guidance issued by Health and Human Services. In fact, there’s no mention of it on HealthCare.gov, either. Just a different deadline date — and there’s still no mention made of the poor woman who used to greet site visitors with her newly insured smile. (In fact, there’s nothing about it on the official White House or HHS sites, either.)
What’s also missing — aside from any sense of urgency or conviction — is any indication of just how many people were actually able to sign up in the first place. Or whether Kathleen Sebelius, the real face of this debacle, will get to keep her job.
For an administration that preaches frequently about government transparency, they’re really bad at it. Have we learned nothing about PR disasters of the past? Remember when Apple launched their fancy new map app last year? And how bad it was? The company quickly got in front of it, someone got canned and the public moved on. The longer this administration treats this like some two-bit car dealer urging us to sign the contract without worrying about the fine print, the more suspicious I get.
Either way, the delay comes on the heels of tech heads assuring us the site — and its “dozens of fixes” should be in working order by the end of November. (Because there’s nothing I’d love more after some red wine, turkey and pumpkin pie than to sign up for some health insurance. Talk about your Black Friday.)
But what bugs me more than anything else about this implementation is the piecemeal, reactive, troubleshooting approach everyone in Washington has taken. Every few months, we get a rule change here, a delay there and compliance becomes a moving target the most diligent HR departments would be hard-pressed to hit. I bet the lawyers and accountants are loving this.
And all those younger uninsureds who — if they even know about the mandate — will emerge from this latest backslide more confused than ever. It’s like they’re running around putting out wildfires because they didn’t take time to clear out the brush.
All of which leads to more uncertainty than ever, which does nothing to help the economy or those this administration claims to want to help.
And if you think this will generate any good will from the House Republicans, you’re living in the past.
My memory might be fading in my old age, but when George W. Bush expanded Medicare in the form of rolling out the Part D drug benefit, he stuck by it, despite taking fire from Democrats and Republicans alike. Never mind that, at the time, it was “the largest expansion of the welfare state since Lyndon Johnson.”
I’m beginning to think this president doesn’t stand by much of anything, except maybe a veil of secrecy the NSA couldn’t penetrate.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com