(image by ABC News)
Cyber Monday has a new meaning for the Obama administration, which is hoping for a Christmas (Internet) miracle to save its damaged "Obamacare" website roll out. Today the administration claimed the website was "working smoothly," but still not perfectly for every user, as TIME reports...
"'While we strive to innovate and improve our outreach and systems for reaching consumers,' representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrote in a report released early on Sunday, 'we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.'
"As frustrated Democrats turn their sights on the law, and Republicans gleefully attack the Administration's management failures, the fact that they can't point to a complete success will undoubtedly complicate the White House's political task in the weeks and months ahead. 'That will be an annoyance,' a senior White House official told TIME last month, who added it will be a 'distraction.' 'I can just tell you what Twitter will say on Dec. 1,' the official added. 'Some person will have a problem and will be on the Today show the next day. That's going to happen. And that is not a problem you can manage for.'"
The sad truth is that the fantastic disaster that was the Obamacare website debut on October 1 was the best holiday present the Republicans could've received. It eclipsed the embarrassing Ted Cruz fake filibuster and the blockade House Neocons put on all meaningful legislation this year. There is no "clear history" button for the initial effort, no matter how well it works today.
If it is well implemented, history may forgive the first failure. But the real task will be regaining credibility for the administration and the Democrats who backed the program. As the LA Times reports, there is reason to hope:
"The opportunity to be reborn is a rare gift indeed, granted to few beyond the mythical phoenix and some adherents of the Baptist faith. Them -- and the Affordable Care Act, which this week will undergo what its supporters hope will be a second launch much different from its first. Reports are flowing in that HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment website serving residents of 36 states that didn't bother to set up their own sites, is working much better than at any time since its calamitous launch on Oct. 1.
"The real vacuum is in the Republican platform for a non-Obamacare world. They don't have one. Conservatives have vigorously spoken out about their complaints with elements of the Affordable Care Act. They've piled on about the website problems. They've resisted expanding access to Medicaid at the state level, a crucial factor in expanding access to coverage. They complain that the GOP was shut out of the congressional debate over healthcare reform in 2010.
"If the problems with the website really are largely fixed, most of these other complaints will fade away. In many respects, the Affordable Care Act already is becoming integrated into the American way of healthcare. It's unimaginable that Americans really wish to return to a pre-Obamacare world. That's a world where exclusions from coverage for those with medical conditions were common, even for minor ailments; where lifetime benefit limits meant a cutoff in coverage for people with chronic or serious disease while they were still young; where arguing with your insurer over a rejected claim was a daily reality for millions.
"So, yes, the rollout has been rough. But it's a mistake to think of a website as the be-all and end-all of the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare reform has come to stay."
...Now if only Obama hadn't given up the public option so quickly ... aw, nevermind.