Em­bar­rass­ing Obama

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Pres­i­dent Obama drew a red line, you might say, to pro­tect Oba­macare. Now the red, ink, blood or what­ever, has spread to his face. Health­Care.gov, the web­site de­signed to de­liver on his prom­ise to sim­plify health care, is a dis­as­ter, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­sists the dis­as­ter must con­tinue. “The gov­ern­ment is now shut down,” Mr. Obama boasted early last week, “but the Af­ford­able Care Act is still open for busi­ness.” But it’s not, and no one knows this bet­ter than the pres­i­dent him­self.

De­spite spend­ing $634 mil­lion to de­sign and build the na­tional health ex­change web­site, all that just about ev­ery­one who tries to log in to learn what Oba­macare is about gets is a mes­sage such as: “Im­por­tant: Your ac­count couldn’t be cre­ated at this time. The sys­tem is un­avail­able.” The House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee has asked Kath­leen Se­be­lius, the sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, to ex­plain how the money was spent and why the web­site isn’t work­ing more than a week af­ter launch.

Pri­vate in­dus­try would never tol­er­ate such in­com­pe­tence. For ex­am­ple, the lat­est ver­sion of Grand Theft Auto, the wildly pop­u­lar video game, sold 11.2 mil­lion copies within 24 hours, reach­ing the $1 bil­lion rev­enue mark faster than any pre­vi­ous en­ter­tain­ment of­fer­ing. Though the game suf­fered the usual bugs, glitches and over­loaded servers when the online ser­vice opened Oct. 1, the same day the Oba­macare ex­changes opened, the publisher of Grand Theft Auto had an in­cen­tive to work around the clock to fix it. Big money was at stake. The ser­vice was quickly put aright. There’s no ev­i­dence that more than a hand­ful of cus­tomers have ac­tu­ally suc­ceeded in sign­ing up for Oba­macare.

The web­site melt­down makes the case that Oba­macare isn’t ready for prime time and should be de­layed for a year. With time, and a few hun­dred mil­lion more dol­lars, the Oba­macare web­site will even­tu­ally be made work­able. If not this year, maybe the next. But Amer­ica’s health sys­tem is far too im­por­tant to en­trust to bu­reau­crats who lack a per­sua­sive in­cen­tive to get the job done right.

The In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice is the pri­mary en­forcer of Oba­macare, and the IRS has proved that it can’t be trusted with sen­si­tive tax­payer in­for­ma­tion. Sarah In­gram Hall, in charge of Oba­macare en­force­ment, was the chief of the IRS depart­ment when it tar­geted con­ser­va­tive and re­li­gious non­profit groups. She ap­peared be­fore the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day to ex­plain why she sent sev­eral emails to po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees at the White House. She said she couldn’t re­mem­ber. The IRS blacked out parts of the emails con­tain­ing sen­si­tive po­lit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion that can­not be legally shared out­side the IRS. The agency re­fused to pro­vide copies that were not blacked out to con­gres­sional investigators.

“So it was OK for the White House to get it,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Repub­li­can, but it’s not OK for us to get it. And Amer­i­cans are sup­posed to rest as­sured that the IRS will treat their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion in a con­fi­den­tial fash­ion when they are forced to sign up by the Af­ford­able Care Act. Un­be­liev­able.”

Bu­reau­crats with a grudge will soon have a wealth of in­for­ma­tion on or­di­nary Amer­i­cans at their fin­ger­tips. Names, ad­dresses, So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, med­i­cal his­to­ries and fi­nan­cial data will be stored on Oba­macare servers. Who would be­lieve that an agency that can’t run a func­tional web­site will pro­vide ad­e­quate se­cu­rity?

The gov­ern­ment should never have got this in­for­ma­tion. Med­i­cal his­to­ries should only be shared by pa­tient and doc­tor. The legacy of Oba­macare is likely to be the de­struc­tion of the pri­vacy rights that were once a birthright of Amer­i­cans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.