What happens when Healthcare.gov runs smoothly?

Posted on October 28, 2013

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The roll-out of Healthcare.gov has been a mess. That much Democrats and Republicans agree on. However, with Jeff Zients’ initial review complete, and a timeline for the site to be “running smoothly” by November 30th, what happens if the site is running smoothly by December 1st – from a political perspective?

The GOP, in their fervent hatred all things President Obama, has sought to repeal Obamacare 42 times at a cost of more than $60 Million. Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is the law that grants authority to create healthcare exchanges on which Healthcare.gov is predicated and seeks to provide affordable health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.

During the Government shutdown and failure to raise the debt limit, two GOP-manufactured crises that cost the US economy $24 Billion, Ted Cruz and House Republicans sought to defund Obamacare, repeal portions of Obamacare, and in a last gasp effort, delay Obamacare for a year. Then, after the Government reopened, the media took notice of the “glitches” in Healthcare.gov, which was launched on October 1st. The GOP pounced on the opportunity to try to further their narrative that Obamacare is a disaster by repeatedly calling Healthcare.gov a “trainwreck.”

What is mildly amusing is that the GOP thinks because a Web site is having issues, albeit large ones, that the entire law should be thrown out. Yet, when President George W. Bush’s roll-out of Medicare Part D had issues, the GOP wasn’t outraged one bit.

The logical fallacy of the GOP position is:

1. Repeal Obamacare. (GOP position) Essentially, health insurance should not be expanded.

2. Healthcare.gov is not working properly. (GOP position) Essentially, it’s an outrage that a website expanding healthcare is not working properly.

So, if Healthcare.gov is running smoothly on November 30th, so that people can sign up for Obamacare well in advance of the March 31st deadline, what will be the GOP’s position?

Repeal Obamacare? Although this is the GOP primary talking point, the political reality of taking health insurance away from millions of people would make this position difficult to promote. This was the fear of the GOP – once Obamacare was implemented then taking someone’s healthcare will be a non-starter. Need proof? See efforts to deny or reduce social security benefits. The Republicans have tried since it’s inception, with little-to-no success. Americans will not relinquish their healthcare…

So, what next? Unfortunately, the Ted Cruz and the House Tea Party contingent will most assuredly try to use Repeal, Defund, Delay Obamacare as a bargaining chip in the government shutdown and debt-ceiling fight early next year. However, there is no reason to believe that the Democrats will give-in to any extortion or hostage taking by the GOP.

Also, expect the GOP’s Repeal, Defund, Delay Obamacare refrain to be a primary component of the GOP during budget negotiations that will take place between now and early next year. If the site is running smoothly, then the issue will be taken off the table from the Dems perspective.

In essence, a properly working site by November 30th will most likely mean that the GOP will have no political options left to deny millions of Americans from receiving affordable healthcare short of winning both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Given the GOP’s woeful poll numbers, a political sweep in 2014 and/or 2016 is not a realistic possibility unless something apocalyptic happens to the Dems.

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Posted in: Healthcare, Obamacare