The Rude Pundit: The Tale of the Terrible, Glitch-Filled Health Care Law Rollout

I hope the Rude Pundit doesn’t mind me re-posting this from his site today, but his post shows how quickly history repeats itself.  Not only that, it shows the hypocrisy people inject into the conversation based completely on ideology when all other things are the same.

Within a week of the new health care law coming into effect, the St. Petersburg Times was reporting that “After hearing about the elaborate network of options…Hugh Mabe had a simple response. ‘I don’t get it.’ For the past week, many Citrus County residents have echoed Mabe’s sentiment. Though enrollment began Tuesday, few potential beneficiaries have settled on a plan.” Yes, it was confusing because it was so very new and different.

Of course, the computer glitches didn’t help: “During the first few days of enrollment, people had trouble logging onto [the] website because of heavy traffic.” Because of all the problems, less than a month after its rollout, at least one senator from the president’s own party wrote to officials in charge of the website, saying, “I am writing to express my concern with serious problems brought to my attention relating website. [People] have reported that the pricing information of plans listed on the website is inaccurate and misleading…A discrepancy of thousands of dollars is more than just a ‘glitch’…This sort of problem could greatly hinder successful implementation of the [new health care law] by undermining consumer confidence in the program.”

A Democratic Congressman wrote to the president after a month into the sign-up to complain that “only 500,000 of 40 million eligible [people] have signed up so far. This low participation number is not surprising. After all, the fledgling program has been plagued by mishaps and misinformation.” He was also frustrated that Congress was doing nothing to help fix the problems.

Things got so bad that even a governor who supported the law was frustrated that only “700 of the 100,000 applications [from his state] that have been submitted” had even been processed. He also noted that the Department of Health and Human Services promised that the “glitches” were fixed, even if users still had difficulties with the website. Among those glitches were “computer file transfers” that caused people to have to resubmit applications that were processed incorrectly.

Medical professionals were also upset with the program. “It’s a nightmare,” said one. “It will be a disaster” if the problems are not fixed, said another.

Let’s just show the cards here. If you haven’t figured it out, this is all about the sign-up period for what was the then-new Medicare prescription drug program, Part D. The “people” up there are actually senior citizens. The senator was Olympia Snowe of Maine, a Republican. The congressman was Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, who is now a senator. The governor was Richard Codey of New Jersey. The president was George W. Bush. The time period was from mid-October of 2005, which was the start of enrollment before the plan went into effect on January 1, 2006.

It’s amazing to me that the similarities between the two are almost identical, yet the reaction of the DC crowd is totally opposite today vs what it was then.  Even with the bumpy rollout of that new program, the Democratic Party didn’t decide to go Terminator on the federal government in order to destroy it to save America from being destroyed.

Given that the GOP passed this health care bill with the Democrats as the opposition then, I’ll let RP tell you how that vociferous opposition railed against this new law.

The bill was passed in December 2003. In November 2004, there was a vote to raise the debt ceiling. You know what didn’t happen? The Democrats in the Senate didn’t hold the debt ceiling hostage because the act was confusing and unpopular – remember, it passed the House only because of bribery and threats by Tom DeLay. They didn’t try to undermine it or sabotage it. No, they tried to make it better, with Republicans refusing to do so.

Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas, tried to fix things in December 2005. She said that “all of the problems that have occurred could have been avoided if Republicans had not blocked a crucial amendment she cosponsored during federal budget debates last month. Lincoln’s bill would have added six months to the transition period to ensure that pharmacists are reimbursed under Medicaid until each eligible senior is assigned to a new drug plan under Medicare. Her amendment was uniformly opposed by Republicans in the Finance Committee and during budget debates on the Senate floor last month.” It failed because Republicans didn’t want to delay the law.

It’s not often that I can thoroughly enjoy a post from the Rude Pundit without any cussing, but he hit a home run with this one.  I’ve posted most of it, but if you want to read it in its entirety, it’s the first link under the related articles section.


14 thoughts on “The Rude Pundit: The Tale of the Terrible, Glitch-Filled Health Care Law Rollout

  1. Bro

    Thinking about my last post, I would rather see this happen one step at a time with no skipped steps. First, the public option because I think people want to make that choice themselves. I think single payer is a given after that. If not, then the public option is still open.


    • In ordinary times, I think there would be a methodology that would show your idea as one of the viable means to an end. I don’t think we’re in ordinary times though, and I doubt we’ll see them anytime in the near future.

      I think this whole thing is going to end up going straight to single payer without the benefit of the public option. Maybe it’s just my pessimism, but if the GOP is successful in derailing health care reform, I don’t see how you can stop or alter the PPACA too much without destroying the insurance industry as collateral damage. Hopefully, we won’t find out.

      I’ve always bought my coverage through my employer, and I was one of those who bought coverage right out of college. There’s something about having it available while living in the “hood” that just makes sense. That’s a different story for a different day.


  2. I think this whole thing is going to end up going straight to single payer without the benefit of the public option.

    My opinion is that this has set single payer, which I support, back many years. The ACA is a case of corporate welfare. It requires people to have insurance, and then subsidizes the insurance industry to give it to them. I don’t think this will do anything to make health care affordable and will actually just increase the costs. Taking the insurance industry’s cut out of it would do more to lower costs, although given technology, etc. It’d probably just slow the growth.

    I remember back in the 1970’s when the HMO was first starting and was supposed to be the key to controlling medical costs. Didn’t turn out that way.

    What we really need to look at is why medical care and prescription drugs cost more here than in most of the rest of the developed world. There’s no reason that a drug or a treatment should cost more here than Canada, Australia, etc.

    And I’m not worried about destroying the insurance industry; they’ll survive just fine, as they always do.


    • “And I’m not worried about destroying the insurance industry; they’ll survive just fine, as they always do.”

      I kinda want the health care part destroyed. I think it’s amoral to try to profit from the well being of someone else.

      In regards to your point on prescription drug costs, look no further than how Eli Lily took Prozac, colored it pink, repackaged it as Sarafem, and was allowed to extend their patent on a drug that should have had its patent expired. I happened to stumble across that last week while reading something else in relation to healthcare costs.


  3. The slanties work here?

    My opinion is that this has set single payer, which I support, back many years.

    A set back sure, but it doesn’t have to be that long. Public option first, and then I think it’s just a matter of time.


    • Yeah, slanties work here. I didn’t deactivate any html coding, so they should all work here just as the smilies should too.

      Trying to limit all that stuff is too much like work, and this ain’t work. LOL!!!!!


    • Was talking to my local druggist a few days ago and he was telling me about some medication (don’t remember what or what it was for) and he said it just had a recent price increase, from $30 something dollars to $750. It’s madness.


    • I’ve got chronic health issues, and I know from experience that can happen if:
      1) Someone who’s making a generic version stops making it, goes out of business, gets bought, etc.
      2) A cheaper (usually generic) version comes on the market; suddenly insurers don’t want to cover the non-generic any more and so the price goes up.
      Most expensive thing I’ve been on was Humira. It retails for around $1,500 a dose, and the usual dose is anywhere from 1-4 doses a month.


    • LOL!!! Re the medication… that’s ridiculous, and there’s gotta be somebody getting well paid for stuff like that. As long as that still happens here, our costs will continue to increase.


  4. Brosephus quoth: “I think this whole thing is going to end up going straight to single payer without the benefit of the public option.”

    From your mouth to gubmint’s ears, buddy. 🙂


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