No Letting Obamacare Off the Hook

Republicans shouldn't call for any more delays to the law, but should force Democrats to own up to their mess.

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Two months ago, congressional Democrats shut down the government because they were unwilling to delay or even admit that the Affordable Care Act wasn't ready for prime time. Fast forward to the end of this year, and they'll be begging for more time. The simple answer for republicans should be "No."

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration need to be held accountable for their bill's failures. It is their bill, after all. They passed it without any Republican support, rejected all suggestions from the other side and then claimed victory after it was passed. It's their crowning achievement.

In September, before the bill's rollout began, Democrats in Congress and the president insisted – to the point of a government shutdown – that Obamacare was ready to launch and all Americans would be better off for it. Oh, what a difference two months makes.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

Healthcare.gov has been wrought with technical issues rendering it inoperable, millions of people have lost the insurance they were promised they could keep, the president has had to perform several on-air apologies and ultimately yesterday, break his own law to allow insurance carriers to continue to provide plans that do not meet government standards.

But rest assured – the administration will get it right. By Nov. 30 the White House has promised healthcare.gov will be fixed. Yesterday, though, it wasn't too sure. "It will be a lot better," the president said. "But there still will be some problems."

As a contingency plan, the administration has asked insurers to start selling policies directly to applicants – a far cry from the compare and shop experience that was sold to the American public – but hey, we're getting used to them overpromising and under delivering. So what if insurers still won't be able to validate who qualifies for what subsidy. That's another issue for another day. Full speed ahead!

However the White House manages to get people signed up for its health coverage, one thing is for sure: The president needs more than 106,000 enrollees before Feb. 28 for his plan to succeed. There's no looking back now.

[Vote: Is Obama Right to Restore Canceled Insurance Plans?]

In the next few months, insurers will be required by some states to estimate what their 2015 pools will look like and set prices for those plans. As of now, the government's pool is very small and potentially filled with sicker, high risk patients. If that doesn't change by the end of February, or by the latest, June, everyone in the pool will see massive price hikes on their healthcare costs come the fall of 2014, which just happens to be election time. Forward march!

Let's say the government does get its website up and running by the end of this year, and even signs on some so-called "young invincibles" to help offset costs – more problems are on the horizon.

The federal government, alongside insurance companies, will be tasked with getting billing and premium collections right, tracking down those who don't pay, verifying and securing identities online, getting accurate enrollment data and reconciling accounts. Not to mention trying to market and sell government supported plans.

When the state of Massachusetts put together its universal health exchange it had 45 employees dedicated to selling insurance. California has budgeted more than 300 people to mind its local shop. The federal government has yet to hire a person to manage what will be the world's largest store for private insurance. Let's advance!

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

Republicans have stood in opposition to Obamacare with good reason – it's a flawed piece of legislation slopped together by an inexperienced president looking for a legacy defining achievement. It's not what's good for Americans – never was.

What's worse is Democrats, so caught up in their own ideology, either neglected the logistics or didn't realize the scope of work it would take to execute their health care law. Republicans did – and they didn't want any part of it.

This fall, the president and congressional Democrats didn't even realize how delaying Obamacare may have actually helped them by giving more time to get their rollout right, or at least provide better cover. It's too late now. We're moving ahead.

Republicans – let's not call for any more delays or give in to any requests for delay. It's time for Democrats to own up to their mess.

  • Read Peter Roff: A Reminder that Lots of Congressional Democrats Lied About Obamacare
  • Read Susan Milligan: The Shaky Health Care Rollout Is a Test for 'No Drama Obama'
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