Obamacare Marketplace Website is a Failure, and Republicans Have Nothing to Do With It


In the blame game about the present shutdown, Democrats are always prompt to blame Republicans. From a far-right conspiracy to the Tea Party to hostage-taking, the GOP seems to have caused so many ills. But there's one thing they can't be blamed about: the failure of the Exchange Program website, which requires more maintenance than the average public infrastructure.

For the first time last Sunday, the Obama administration admitted that the website needed to fix several software problems that kept people from registering, which they must do before they can compare insurance plans. Even though HealthCare.gov was down Monday night so it could be fixed, it still wasn't working properly in Tuesday afternoon (1:30 p.m. MDT).

Why is the website having so many problems? "No one could have predicted that, in a country of 300 million people, 2.4% of those people might stop by ... to check out the [exchange program]." This is typical government "preparedness" at work: They create something meant to "help" millions of people and they blame those same people for crashing the website when they all come to visit it.

And it was bound to happen, as predicted by this Bloomberg journalist in December. Indeed, IT contracting, taken care of by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), only started in December 2011, and it was apparently not given to the best techs. The first contract was only signed in July, seven months later, and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which supervises Obamacare, could only start to verify the IT system in August.

Political problems also created all sorts of delays. At first, states had until November 16, 2012 to tell the federal government if they were participating in the exchange program; that date was pushed back until February 15, 2013. With January 1, 2014 being the date set in stone (for now) for people to be able to buy insurance on the exchange, most private companies would simply not be able to create such a large website in time with so much sensitive information.

Speaking of which, HHS didn't even let its own watchdogs examine the system before it went online last week. People hired to run the website were hastily hired without extensive background checks. That could explain the recent leak of personal data from some 2,400 people in Minnesota.

In other words, everything that could have gone wrong with the website has gone wrong, and then some more. If this is a preview of what Obamacare will be — constant delays, botched preparation, and personal data at risk — then I do hope Republicrats will keep disagreeing on who has the best ideas to spend money they don't have.