This sounds remarkably like what we’ve been writing, and it’s nice to see a few Obamacare supporters recognize this reality. Holding Obamacare to its promises is rather important, no matter which side you’re on. On my side, it’s to ameliorate the damage and prevent such debacles in the future. For Klein, it’s to make sure this debacle doesn’t make activist government biting off way more than it can chew competently look, well, incompetent.
Let me try to understand this: The key incentive for small businesses to support Obamacare was that they would be able to shop for the best deals in health care super-stores—called exchanges. The Administration has had 3 years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so.
This is a really bad sign. There will be those who argue that it’s not the Administration’s fault. It’s the fault of the 33 states that have refused to set up their own exchanges. Nonsense. Where was the contingency planning? There certainly are models, after all—the federal government’s own health benefits plan (FEHBP) operates markets that exist in all 50 states. So does Medicare Advantage. But now, the Obama Administration has announced that it won’t have the exchanges ready in time, that small businesses will be offered one choice for the time being—for a year, at least. No doubt, small business owners will be skeptical of the Obama Administration’s belief in the efficacy of the market system to produce lower prices through competition. That was supposed to be the point of this plan.
Klein goes on to give Republican governors part of the blame for not setting up exchanges, but stay tuned for a denouncement of bureaucratic failures I could of written:
Certainly, the Republicans who have stood in the way of these exchanges—their own idea, by the way, born in the conservative Heritage Foundation—deserve a great deal of the “credit” for the debacle. But we are now seeing weekly examples of this Administration’s inability to govern. Just a few weeks ago, I reported on the failure of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to come up with a unified electronic health care records system. There has also been the studied inattention to the myriad of ineffective job training programs scattered through the bureaucracy. There have been the oblique and belated efforts to reform Head Start, a $7 billion program that a study conducted by its own bureaucracy—the Department of Health and Human Services—has found nearly worthless. The list is endless.
Well, yeah, which is why many of us were skeptical of this plan from the beginning. Turning over the entire health care system to a never-before-attempted Rube Goldberg Machine designed by the same guys who ineffectively run the VA and Head Start and myriad ineffective job training programs seemed ill-advised.
Let us hope his prediction in the last paragraph is true: “And, in a larger sense, the notion of activist government will be in peril—despite the demographics flowing the Democrats’ way—if institutions like the VA and Obamacare don’t deliver the goods.” Americans for too long have given the feds a near complete pass for crappy service they’d never be willing to give a cell phone company. Yes, the notion of an activist government will be in peril if and when Americans demand that an activist government’s programs actually do what they say they will. Realizing they usually don’t is a great step toward actually helping people.
I never thought it’d feel this good to agree with Joe Klein.