Friday, November 22, 2013
Obamacare - Improved Technology?
Obama has made a number of claims regarding his health care plan and technology.
For example, in 2007 he promised: "We’re going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year.....We’re going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital. That will reduce medical errors and reduce costs." (See HERE as quoted HERE)
The same year he said: "All of the major Democratic candidates are advocating some form of universal health care. The question is, how do we get there? My proposal says...we will pay for those subsidies by imposing a set of cost-saving measures that will actually improve quality at the same time that they lower costs using health IT, information technologies, not just for billing but for maintaining medical records, for communicating between doctors and nurses and pharmacists to reduce errors and reduce bureaucracy managing the chronically ill." (See HERE, as quoted HERE)
He also indicated: "We spend $2 trillion on health care in this country every year, 50% more than other industrialized nations. And yet, we don’t have, necessarily, better outcomes. If we make sure that we provide preventive care and medical technology that can eliminate bureaucracy and paperwork, that makes a big difference." (See HERE, as quoted HERE)
FactCheck.org reported: "In his infomercial, Obama claimed '[M]y health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and preexisting conditions, and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.' Way back in June when we dug into the accounting behind this claim, an Obama adviser told us that more than half of it is attributed to savings from the widespread adoption of electronic records, at least some of which is expected to go to government, employers and insurance companies. The campaign, we were told, expects a trickle-down effect that could reach consumers in the form of lower taxes, reduced premiums or higher wages. So even if the savings materialized, some of them would be passed along in a variety of ways that might not be seen as lowering health care costs, such as premiums, by $2,500 a year."(See HERE)
Wouldn't this have been great?
According to Obama's own web site: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records." (Quoted HERE)
It is uncertain at this point whether $10 billion was spent on improving health care technology since Obama was elected, but according to a Bloomberg analysis reported at The Blaze, "The to-date cost of the glitchy Obamacare website has topped $1 billion, easily surpassing the $394 million originally estimated by the Government Accountability Office" (see HERE)--denials to the contrary notwithstanding. (See HERE)
However, regardless of whatever mind-boggling price tag is eventually attributed to creating and maintaining the site, the logical question to ask is whether or not the tax-payers got their monies worth?
Better yet, since, according to Obama himself, the success of Obamacare rested primarily on the promise of improved technology, it may be wise to examine the roll-out of the Obamacare web site to see how well this lead-off technological "investment" panned out, so as to get a sense for how well Obamacare may fare in the future.
As best I can tell, the contract to build the Obamacare web site was awarded in 2010 or 2011, shortly after Obamacare was signed into law--though it wasn't awarded based on best bids or on best abilities, but on the basis of best buddies and donors: cronyism. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)
So, after three years, how well did crony capitalism and Obamacare deliver on its technological commitment? (It should be noted that in November of this year--2013--three 20-year-olds built a comparable web site in three days and nights at no cost to the tax payers--see HERE and HERE)
I think it is reasonable to suggest that there was near universal agreement that the web site roll-out was a colossal disaster. Here is a smattering of reports from media outlets on both sides of the political spectrum: see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.
Of course, there were the ever-expected flurry of irresponsible shifting of blame and finger-pointing (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE) as well as multiple delays (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE ) and a combination of both. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)
Initially, the perceived problem at the web site was one of access and web traffic jams. And, because of constant and prolonged crashes, only six people were able to sign up on the exchanges the first day, October 1st. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)
This was paltry by any standard, but even more so given the Obama administration projection that half a million people would sign up during the first month. (See HERE)
And, while there were several less-than-successful re-openings of and deadline for the web site (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), the access issue turned out to be a short-term blessing in disguise since it effectively delayed the eventual "sticker shock" experienced by many site visitors, and prevented people from gaining access and likely learn just how unaffordable Obamacare really was.
Yet, over time it became apparent that the access or traffic issue wasn't the only, or even the most significant problem with the web site. In addition to the nearly 400 bugs (see HERE), there were serious design flaws (see HERE) and major challenges with keeping the sensitive data secure (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), interfacing between disparate computer systems and divergent program developers (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), correctly confirming enrollee identification and qualifications (see HERE and HERE) and billing info (see HERE) and assuring accuracy of data (see HERE), not to mention providing online payment ability (see HERE), and making certain that people who were told they were enrolled had actually been enrolled (see HERE and HERE and HERE)
Whew...aren't you glad there was nothing major to worry about?
In response to the outcry and concerns, the Obama administration has promised various "fixes" (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), and in their infinite wisdom they re-hired the same firm to fix the problems that it had created the problems to begin with (see HERE and HERE), though later they sought assistance from leading technological companies in what has become affectionately called a "tech surge". (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)
What makes the web site debacle all the more astounding is that the October roll-out was scheduled only for the individual insurance market, which is supposedly but a small segment of the entire health insurance market--potentially less than 17% of the U.S. population. (See HERE and HERE) Whereas, the roll-out for the more sizable employer insurance market was slated for November of 2013. However, because of all the problems experienced with the individual market roll-out, the President postponed the roll-out of the employer insurance portion of the web site--i.e. SHOP--until November of 2014. (See HERE and HERE and HERE)
The Leftist LUNC here is that, while the affordability of Obamacare was based in large part on improved technology, the cyber nightmare at healthcare.gov over the last three months since it was launched, not only cast serious doubt on Obama's technological promises, but on the prospects of Obamacare as well. (See HERE)
Millions, if not billions of our tax-payer dollars were funneled into the pockets of Obama cronies, and what did we get for it? Among many ills, a web site that still crashes, is at high risk for theft of personal data, can't even assure that people have been enrolled, and wont be completed for a year after it was scheduled
And, this is the government program we have entrusted to look out for our critical health care needs?
For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, and Victimization