Thursday, November 21, 2013

The clock is ticking...

There’s no other way to say it – the Obama presidency is in crisis, reeling from all the problems and issues associated for their badly mismanaged launch of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) website. October 1st was the first day of enrollment for the nation’s uninsured to attain health insurance through market exchanges.

President Obama signed his signature policy, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), three years ago in March 2010. Since then, the president has faced a relentless stream of criticism, obstructionism, and heavy opposition from GOP conservatives and the Tea Party faction. Over the course of three years, the conservative opposition have taken to successfully tagging the legislation, “Obamacare”, failed in their many attempts to defund and repeal ACA, and went so far as to shut down the entire federal government for 16 days at a cost initially pegged at $24 billion dollars. In recent months, Dr. Ben Carson emerged as the black conservative who would take the Obama presidency to task with his ridiculous linking of ACA to slavery.

The recent scrutiny and revelations about the problems associated with ACA has now clearly surpassed GOP attacks on ACA’s premise and purpose – as the national spotlight now shines on the self-inflicted wounds created by the Obama administration. Initially, the focus was on the continuing issues associated with the ACA website, followed by revelations that folks were being dropped from their insurance policies because their policies were deemed “unqualified” under ACA guidelines. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan…” was looped over and over and over again to highlight yet another broken promise made by this president to the American people. The president’s poll numbers indicate declining trust and credibility brought on by the ACA debacle. His apology to those who lost plans was debated while his sincerity was questioned by conservatives. To neutralize congressional actions to address the dropped plans – the president announced his plan to help the people who lost their plans so they can be able to keep their plans.

While the president set a November 30th deadline to resolve the website issues – a recent hearing before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce committee revealed that the website is only about 60 percent complete . Additionally, we now know that the administration knew of the problems months before the October 1st launch date. A report by McKinsey & Company outlined many of the issues that plagued the October 1st launch.

The emergence of these issues with ACA has prompted a stream of commentary disguised as analysis comparing the ACA problems to the death and destruction that followed Hurricane Katrina. While the issues with the ACA rollout are serious and significant – any attempt to link these problems to Hurricane Katrina is at best flimsy and unsupported with strong analysis. However, in light of the reports that have surfaced regarding information shared with the administration – the question comes up, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” But what may prove to be a bigger issue and one particularly for voters – what else is there that we don’t know? Are there other parts of the law lurking about in the shadows that hasn’t pierced the light of day yet? Furthermore, there are reports that President Obama’s proposed fixes for the dropped policies may cause even more problems.

President Obama has a steep mountain to climb to resurrect his popularity and legacy. Clearly, his legacy will certainly rest on the success of his administration’s efforts to resolve the ACA issues and concerns that are sure to surface during the remaining two years of his presidency. In light of the crisis the president now faces, can the president successfully “rebrand” and “remarket” ACA to remind the country of ACA’s long term objective of transforming the health care system and insuring the uninsured?

Millions of the uninsured are depending on him and the clock is ticking…

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