Latest Obamacare goal: avoid 'third world experience'

Talk about managing expectations! Where once President Obama promised cheaper, universal health care, extending the blessings of the highest quality medical care in the world to all, now an Obamacare official merely wants to be better than Zimbabwe when it comes to the public's experience.

The latest warning comes from Henry Chao, an official at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, responsible for developing the websites for state insurance exchanges (the ones that a majority of states have declined to offer).Philip Klein of The Examiner writes:

With time-running out before the major provisions of President Obama's health care law are set to be implemented, the official tasked with making sure the law's key insurance exchanges are up and running is already lowering expectations.

"The time for debating about the size of text on the screen or the color or is it a world-class user experience, that's what we used to talk about two years ago," Henry Chao, an official at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services who is overseeing the technology of the exchanges said at a recent conference. "Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience."

Chao also described himself as "nervous." His comments, which came at a policy meeting of insurance industry lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans, were first reported by CQ Health Beat and picked up by Avik Roy at Forbes.

Government agencies are notorious for wasting time and money on new information systems. The bureaucratic mindset is antithetical to quick and effective decision making, with the temptation to CYA in the face of uncertainty. There is no reason to expect that this website development will be any different.

It may be starting to dawn on even the densest of Democrats that Obamacare is becoming a disaster that could wreck their party.  The promises made about keeping one's doctor and health plan and reducing costs have evaporated, though they are unlikely to be forgotten as more and more companies drop their health plans on favor of paying the fine, and stranded members find themselves with a near-third world experience on a website trying to find alternatives, that end up costing them much more than before, not to mention a looming physician shortage, as paperwork requirements (including an electronic medical records mandate) eat up more and more physician time, while constraining physician autonomy.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is hitting the smartypants authors of Obamacare with a vengeance, and the Democrats, who staked their political future on it, ought to start worrying. Beltway insiders say there is now little chance of a repeal of the law.. We shall see. The 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to become a referendum on what has become a fiasco.


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