I had the choice of an essay about “shiny objects” and this one, so I picked this one.
PoliticusUSA is liberal web site. I was intrigued by a piece there titled: “Republicans Deliberately Sabotaged the ACA Website, Hoping the Law Would Implode.” As is the case with most stories with outrageous headlines, the story is a little more mundane.
One theory behind the story is something I myself have noted, that the failure of 36 states, particularly Republican-controlled ones, to set up their own health exchanges forced many more people into the federal marketplace, placing extra burden on the servers supporting healthcare.gov.
The article also notes that Republicans blocked extra funding to deal with the unexpected number of non-participating states, and the government shutdown on the day healthcare.gov went live prevented necessary support activities.
OK. So a liberal web site blames Republicans. Is that news? I mean, they would say that, wouldn’t they? What’s news is when a well-respected mainstream newspaper site, Politico.com, carries the same story, saying:
That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.
I don’t hold myself up as an expert, but I have read some of the commentary about what went wrong. What I find is a classic failed IT project like dozens I’ve witnessed in my career. Most big IT projects fail (over budget, late, don’t meet expectations) and frankly governments micromanage such projects to an extent that it’s hard to actually get stuff done. Specifications were slow in coming, and the legislative mandate meant implementation couldn’t be delayed until everything was right. Given that the actual project shouldn’t have cost maybe 5% of what they paid, the other 95% had to be spent on things that just got in the way.
That said, Republicans made it plain that they were going to do everything they could to kill the Affordable Care Act, and apparently that extended to making the rollout of healthcare.gov go as badly as they could make it.
The Politico story is a good read.
- Republicans Deliberately Sabotaged the ACA Website, Hoping the Law Would Implode: PoliticusUSA.
- Healthcare.gov Was Crippled by Bureaucracy from the Start: the Atlantic Wire
- The Obamacare sabotage campaign: Politico.com
- The seven deadly sins of HealthCare.gov: Ars Technica