Flashback: When Democrats wanted to scrap “embarrassing” gov’t healthcare launches

posted at 10:41 am on November 5, 2013 by Morgen Richmond

On November 14, 2005, less than 2 years after President Bush signed the program into law, enrollment began for Medicare Part D which allowed seniors for the first time to purchase subsidized prescription drug coverage through Medicare. Seniors were offered choices from among a variety of plans and providers, and premium subsidies based on their income levels. As a result the program was complicated, requiring the launch of a new government website and call center to facilitate enrollment, and a host of back-end systems to calculate eligibility and transmit enrollment information to the insurance carriers.

As you may recall, things did not go as smoothly as planned. One might say the roll-out was plagued by a series of “glitches”. Seniors were confused about their options and the new website contained inaccuracies and was initially overwhelmed by a flood of inquiries.

By the time coverage began to take effect in early 2006, the media was unsparing. It was an unqualified “debacle”, according to Paul Krugman in the NY Times. A “Medicare Hurricane”, according to the Washington Post. Time declared it the “GOP’s Medicare Drug Problem”, Slate a “drug addled fiasco“.

Many Democrats in Congress were just as ruthless in their criticism, even though they had long supported the idea of covering prescription drugs via Medicare. “This has been botched and bungled every step of the way”, said Sen. Kent Conrad (ND). “No greater government failure since Katrina”, he added.

Senator Hillary Clinton called for the program to be scrapped and re-started, calling the rollout a “deep, heartbreaking disappointment” while helpfully reminding everyone that Medicare was initially implemented in 11 months, when “we didn’t have computers”. (video below)

Nancy Pelosi declared it a “complete embarrassment to the Bush Administration” and like Sen. Clinton said that Democrats should “replace it”. (video below)

So how did this embarrassing debacle turn out? By the end of March, only 4.5 months after enrollment began, 27 million seniors had signed up for coverage.

27 million.

Is this is a cautionary tale of how a competent administration, spurred by criticism, can turn an unprecedented failure into something most people would call a “resounding success” within a very short period of time? Perhaps, and the current Administration would certainly like to believe so. But I can’t help but notice that as with ObamaCare the media’s initial stance was curiously in line with that put forth by leading Democrats, all the way up to the point of time in which those inconvenient facts got in the way.


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You have to enroll in your healthcare plan to see what’s in your healthcare plan.

Wino on November 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Inconvenient.

MT on November 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

What a vile and wretched thing that is in the picture. If that doesn’t warrant botox being banned by the FDA then nothing will.

acyl72 on November 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

:):):)

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 10:48 AM

This one’s a debacle turning into a quagmire.

de rigueur on November 5, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Obamacare is going to fall a little short of that 27 million mark
7
million mark.

txhsmom on November 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Is this is a cautionary tale of how a competent administration, spurred by criticism, can turn an unprecedented failure into something most people would call a “resounding success” within a very short period of time? Perhaps, and the current Administration would certainly like to believe so.

The key word in the excerpt from Morgan is ‘competent’.

Is the Obama Administration ‘competent’? Have they demonstrated any real core competency besides the ability to campaign, raise money, and stonewall Congress?

I think the answer to that question, looking across the breadth of their actions, efforts, and accomplishments over the past 5 years is that there is a near consistent demonstration of a lack of core competency.

Furthermore, when it comes to what this Administration is trying to do, enact government control over 1/6th of the national economy via 2200+ pages of legislation and 12000+ pages of regulations, it is far more complex, larger, and fundamentally clusterfarked than Medicare Part D efforts during the previous Administration.

Even the most competent Administration would face a daunting challenge in locking in government control of 1/6th of the national economy. Big ideas, generated within a bubble devoid of reality, are easy to conceive. Implementing them in reality is very very hard….and I believe, beyond the capabilities of Big Government to do effectively or competently.

Athos on November 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM

The praetorian guard must protect the emperor to protect the praetorian guards azzes.

neyney on November 5, 2013 at 11:06 AM

so what you’re saying is that we have to wait 4.5 months until we determine whether or not the Obama administration is as competent as the Bush administration?

Defenestratus on November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I would love to see Obama ask Bush for help on this launch! LOL.

PattyJ on November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I would love to see Obama ask Bush for help on this launch! LOL.

PattyJ on November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

“Everything is still your fault, including this disaster, but please help me out anyway. Then when it keeps failing, it’s still your fault.”

22044 on November 5, 2013 at 11:10 AM

The big difference is that Obamacare has winners AND losers — and the latter may be just as politically powerful as the former.

So while the early days of the Bush initiative may have been met with grimaces, there was no huge constituency that hated it (there were those who thought it too expensive and opposed it on ideological grounds, but that’s not the same thing as someone who has to write a bigger check for less service).

bobs1196 on November 5, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Btw, according to the PDF (Link provided an article) they hit 27,000,000 enrollees in just 3 months.

Yitzchokm on November 5, 2013 at 11:20 AM

There are two major political parties in America. I’m a member of the naïve, stupid, and cowardly one. I’m a Republican.

How stupid is the GOP? They still don’t get it.

H/t Murphy9

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM

there is a lot of difference, if they couldn’t sign up they didn’t loose anything, and force to pay for something they didn’t want

RonK on November 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM

This one’s a debacle turning into a quagmire. – de rigueur on November 5, 2013 at 10:53 AM

It is a debacle that bring forth the death knell of the Democrat Party. The man and his cohorts have knowingly lied to the American people, being aided by the MSM, now for years about Obamacare. As I say he has committed a gross malfeasance in office. And, malfeasance is an impeachable offense. Too bad Republicans don’t have control of the Senate.

SC.Charlie on November 5, 2013 at 11:23 AM

By the way, more Morgen Richmond, please!

22044 on November 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Schad, the last one is for you.

Resist We Much on November 5, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Love you very much.

It’s Platonic, Axe :)

HA needs to hire you…but then you wouldn’t strike :) I’m conflicted about that.

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

America needs to be divested in full from this harlot of Babylon.

Murphy9 on November 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM

“The Five Year Plan Was Overfilled”

What most frightens those who have ever built a database application isn’t finding that it doesn’t work, but discovering, after some minutes of false satisfaction, that you are getting different answers to the same query.

Most professionals will try to fix the problem. But there’s another alternative. Hide it. Pretend the system works and keep up the charade as long as you can. Kathleen Hennessy of the Los Angeles Times describes an incident which might have taken place in Stalin’s Russia or the Death Star. Prior to it failing, the “President was told [the] healthcare website would work, official says” — even though it wasn’t working.

WASHINGTON — President Obama was assured that the healthcare insurance website was ready to launch on Oct. 1, even as private contractors and some administration officials knew the site had failed in early testing, a senior White House advisor said Sunday.

Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer said the president repeatedly asked about the healthcare.gov website, a key piece of his 2010 healthcare overhaul legislation, and was told it would meet his expectations.

Along with the president, Pfeiffer hyped the website in the weeks before the troubled launch, promising it would “be a consumer experience unmatched by anything in government, but also in the private sector.”

The system had been in free fall for three years, but nobody wanted to listen. “Three years ago, a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of Obamacare. A memo obtained by CBS News said strong leadership was missing and the law’s successful implementation was in jeopardy. The warnings were specific and dire — and ignored.

… and on the latest pivot by Barack Obama…

It’s a brilliant move, relying on the well proven fact that no one remembers a toothache after being struck on the head by a 64 ounce hammer, a treatment whose efficacy has often been demonstrated by Moe on Curly Joe. By applying this sovereign remedy it is virtually certain that by this time next month no one will remember Obamacare because they’ll be caught up in some new catastrophe.

Of course none of this fixes the problem, merely hides it and spins it away; a process similar to pasting a static picture on the front glass of a dead Iphone to make it seem like it’s working. It may not be working at all, but it won’t matter as long as the customer is distracted long enough for the vendor to sell it and get away.

This is a read it all item….the only competency demonstrated here is hiding and spinning.

Athos on November 5, 2013 at 11:28 AM

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” — GWB, presciently predicting obama’s legacy

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Thx. :-)

Resist We Much on November 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

This one’s a debacle turning into a quagmire.

de rigueur on November 5, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Giggity!

DOOF on November 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I would love to see Obama ask Bush for help on this launch! LOL.

PattyJ on November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

And I would howl with laughter and great mirth to see Bush tell Obama to pound sand.

HiJack on November 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Love you very much.

It’s Platonic, Axe :)

HA needs to hire you…but then you wouldn’t strike :) I’m conflicted about that.

Schadenfreude on November 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Thx. :-)

Resist We Much on November 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

You know, I think this idea could have legs. The posts could be original or cross posts from RWM’s blogs. 1 or 2/day – a frequency like MKH’s.
I would forecast better/more traffic here. As opposed to Jazz’s posts.

22044 on November 5, 2013 at 12:09 PM

It’s a debacle wrapped in a quagmire linked to a 404 error.

Wino on November 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

… meanwhile, a scant 15 miles from me, Judith Falkner, Obama bundler extrordinaire, owner of EPIC, the medical records-keeping software giant, keeps expanding her fiefdom campus. The latest additions will be “Hogwarts” style.

D is for Debacle.

No, it’s not. It’s for “Double-Dealing”.

M240H on November 5, 2013 at 12:21 PM

The DemoTard/ProgeLiberal creed.

‘Even if there are pictures…It didn’t happen.”

BigWyo on November 5, 2013 at 12:35 PM

You have to enroll in your healthcare plan to see what’s in your healthcare plan.

Wino on November 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Indeed.

But don’t do it.

AesopFan on November 5, 2013 at 12:36 PM

That is the one pic of Nanzi that I can actually stomach.
Actually, it makes me giggle.
Illustrates her bat-shat-crazy existance.

pambi on November 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Pelosi: “I never said those things I said”…

JetBoy on November 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM

That is the one pic of Nanzi that I can actually stomach.
Actually, it makes me giggle.
Illustrates her bat-shat-crazy existance.

pambi on November 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

I actually laughed out loud when I saw that screencap.

JetBoy on November 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM

But I can’t help but notice that as with ObamaCare the media’s initial stance was curiously in line with that put forth by leading Democrats, all the way up to the point of time in which those inconvenient facts got in the way.

If the cancellation notices weren’t going out by the millions, and millions of people weren’t actually seeing the higher costs and lesser coverages of insurance under Obamacare, the media tools would still be parroting Obama’s lies as if they were revealed Truth.

Bernie Goldberg calls them stenographers. That’s being generous, and it’s unfair to real stenographers, who are closer to what “journalists” should be than the “journalists” are. Stenographers report what they hear and neither cheerlead nor add spin. If only the “journalists” simply did as much.

novaculus on November 5, 2013 at 1:40 PM

I haven’t watched the videos, but who’s that sitting next to Hillary? Stephen Chu?

Ward Cleaver on November 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

I would love to see Obama ask Bush for help on this launch! LOL.

PattyJ on November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

“Everything is still your fault, including this disaster, but please help me out anyway. Then when it keeps failing, it’s still your fault.”

Under this regime the quote quote would actually be:
“It’s President Bush’s fault for not helping out.”

JohnnyL on November 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

most people would call a “resounding success”

James Madison would be turning over in his grave and the “law” may cause some of us to join him.

burt on November 5, 2013 at 3:34 PM