Sure, it’s a little irritating to see Republicans criticize problems with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) HealthCare.gov enrollment site.
The Republicans have done whatever they could to starve the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for years. Watching them attack HHS for having a hard time setting up a complicated website while locked in a Republican-made straitjacket is a little ludicrous.
But, to be fair: The Republicans have been consistent in their efforts to block and delay implementation of the law in any way they could think of.
To me, the really, really, really irritating people to watch are the Democrats at the various hearings who express their support for PPACA, then talk about how upset they are about the implementation problems.
Personally: Sorry, but I think PPACA exchange enrollment is doing reasonably well, under difficult circumstances. If HHS numbers are correct, the exchanges now already have 1 million who are in line to get private coverage through the exchanges in 2014.
EHealth Inc., for example, is a well-established Web broker that has a website that works really well, and it has a grand total of 1.1 million members. It brought in just 211,000 new members in all three months of the third quarter of 2013.
So, OK, HealthCare.gov has a bigger promotional budget, and many, many other advantages over eHealth, but maybe, given how poorly the HealthCare.gov website and many state exchange enrollment systems work, the “disappointing numbers” issue is more the result of people setting unrealistic enrollment goals than with the numbers themselves.
But, to the extent that there are problems: Once upon a time, President Obama and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., had a bunch of friendly Republicans talking to them in health reform legislation drafting rooms.
Then the far left-wing House Democrats started agitating for government-run health plans, as opposed to private plans sold through exchanges. They agitated for so long they kept Obama from getting any big health bill through Congress before the Democrats lost their so-called “veto proof majority” in the Senate in early 2010.
Some reporters at The Associated Press call PPACA “President Obama’s health care law,” but PPACA is not so much anything like what Obama envisioned as it is the product of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to herd the crazy cats in his party over in the House.
To herd the cats, Democratic leaders started hiding in offices and drafting ever-longer, ever-more-convoluted bills filled with a million little bits of legislative catnip, at the expense of any possibility of creating a bill that Republicans could support.
On the one hand, maybe Obama should have given up.
On the other hand, he didn’t. He kept plugging away, backed his team up and hoped the resulting law would do some good.
On the third hand: Obama is polite enough not to play the blame game with the House Democrats, but if they had let him pass a health reform package that some Republicans could support in his first year in office, or had given him more room to compromise with the Republicans once Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., took his oath in the Senate, then Obama might be able to get more done today, especially in areas such as getting funding to set up websites.