ObamaCare Clusterfuck: "Manual workarounds" now in project scope for CT exchange, as Obama's PR move on the 3-page form caused delay
What I have been seeing, trying to do Kreminology on ObamaCare's bizarrely secretive implementation, is project managers frantically triaging requirements to get something, anything, out the door; see Colorado, for example. Turns out, and as usual, I haven't been nearly cynical enough. Sarah Kliff does some actual reporting on how things are going with the Connecticut exchange:
At a monthly board meeting of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, members of the standing-room-only crowd [!!] got a reminder that they, too, were behind schedule. The insurance marketplace they were working on nights and weekends won’t be completely ready on time.
“It is highly complex, it’s unprecedented and it’s not going to be smooth,” Kevin Counihan, chief executive of the state’s exchange, Access Health CT, told the group.
Just so long as it's not a "third world experience," eh? Could be deliberate lowballing, but the stories don't read like a PR campaign. Unless the crowd is made up of Obots and the site developers, it's the press and non-profits -- along, I would bet, with the crows and vultures that always circle a prostrate body.
That’s why Connecticut — like other states across the country — has lowered the bar, doing what it can in the time it has left before the health-care law’s major programs are launched Oct. 1.
Although the states are promising to provide new marketplaces for individuals to compare and buy health insurance plans, the Web portals will be a bare-bones version of what was initially envisioned.
Why do I think these "bare bones versions" are not going to be like Expedia? And do note Obama's oft-cited PR move to change to the ObamaCare submission form at the last minute butchered the schedule (and I would bet busted the budget as well):
Connecticut has made progress. It was the first state to complete an intensive technology test in which the state’s portal successfully connected to a federal data hub.
But officials have learned that good news can have a downside. The state agency spent weeks reprogramming its Web site after the federal government shrank the insurance application from 21 pages to three.
In other words, states that were most committed to ObamaCare (and, one would like to assume, their uninsured citizens) were punished the most.* [BWA-H... It hurts too much.]
And who's impacted by the delay Obama caused? Why, the gay community, since DOMA changes impact the exchanges by changing marriage status. But don't worry! There's a solution:
When the Supreme Court struck down a key element of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Access Health CT board members cheered. Then, they remembered that it would add to the workload: The marketplace would now need to recognize same-sex marriages, a coding change unlikely to be ready for October.
“Everything continues to change all the time,” Van Loon told his staff at a meeting later that day. “We’re going to have to adjust some processes around that. If DOMA requires a manual work-around, we’ll do that.”
Oh, great. So tell me, how does the manual workaround get into the system? Gay people have to travel to whatever office is handling ObamaCare, and fill out the forms on paper? And they get to be second-class citizens again, just this time because Obama started tinkering with his own Rube Goldberg device?** And how is this like Expedia, exactly?
And most importantly of all, can somebody tell me how a "bare bones" site, partially paper-based, is going to attract those critical "young invincibles"? From back in May:
What's one thing you know about young people today, maybe the most obvious thing? That's right: They're totally wired, totally digital, totally computer-savvy. (They are also said by some to multi-task and have very short attention spans.)
So if you had an Internet product, and you wanted to turn young people off, right at the point of purchase, what would you do? That's right: You'd build a platform that was "buggy," with a "user experience" that "needs improvement," that has "glitches," and that will take three years to straighten out.
Which, my friends, is exactly what ObamaCare's exchanges are going to be like, according to Rahm Emmanuel's little brother. Yikes.
Oh, I almost forgot. Here's the headline, and Kliff's lead:
‘I wish we had one more year:’ States are struggling to launch Obamacare on time
HARTFORD, Conn. — Facing tight deadlines and daunting workloads, states across the country are scaling back ambitions for implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Well, everybody had three years (2013 - 2010) to implement ObamaCare, "the President's signature domestic initiative," which is going to cover a pitiable 7 million of the 40+ million uninsured in its first year. LBJ, let us remember, rolled out Medicare for the entire over-65 population in one year, back in the day of steam-powered mainframes that used punch cards fed to them by guys in white shirts with ties.
So what's the difference? The system architecture. Medicare for all has a simple and robust single payer architecture: You determine eligibility in one (1) jurisdiction (the United States) with one eligibility criteria for citizens: Their age. ObamaCare, by contrast, needs to determine eligibility in 50 (fifty) jurisdictions, with a complex eligibility formula that's primarily income-based, but involves systems integration from the IRS, DHS, HHS, and private credit reporting companies (at least), to throw people into the right subsidy bucket. That's called a combinatorial explosion, and even the best program and project managers -- which ObamaCare's managers clearly either are not, or have not been given the opportunity to be -- have a hard time dealing with them. Let me know how it all works out....
I should add my usual caveat that a system as large as ObamaCare is going to end up helping some people; the odds are that the lucky or the persistent are going to fight their way through the chaos and end up with a health insurance policy that if they're lucky, will cover them when they need it. (Under RomneyCare, bankruptcy claims due to medical expenses fell from 57% to 52%, which gives you an idea of how lucky they will need to be: Basically, a coin flip.) And no doubt the Obama permanent campaign apparatus (Enroll America; OFA) will do its level best to get the most telegenic of the lucky winners in front of the cameras. So there's that.
NOTE * Which is what happens to you when you trust Obama; see youth unemployment and debt, for example, or black unemployment.
NOTE ** I wonder if his techies warned him, or if they were too Koolaid-addled or afraid to speak up, or if they were even at the table at all. Ya know, I'm waiting for the "Hitler Reacts" video on ObamaCare....