Obamacare’s Two Books

health-care-signup-1Like any good mob business, there’s two sets of books (so I hear, anyway). One legitimate, one not. One you show the government when they come knocking, while the other contains your dirty laundry.

The administration’s handling of Obamacare is operating a bit like that. They have two books: the one for the public, which emits sunshine and moonbeams–in a twist of Obamaphysics, at the same time. And the other: for private, closed doors consumption. The one that portrays the structure of the entire law in a rather, ah, desperate manner.

Well, to quote a wise philosopher, desperation is a stinky cologne. Eventually it seeps through the cracks where even the public can catch wind of it. (I promise that’ll be the last painfully tortured metaphor I’ll use…today.)

Such is the revelation surrounding the release of documents from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While the administration has been adamant in it’s public reassurances about the stability of the law, the documents reveal that problems with the exchange website, far from over, instead “puts the entire health insurance industry at risk” … “potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers.”

They helpfully added that if the issues aren’t fixed come March, the government itself will come to “financial harm”.

Well, that’s swell. Cloistered behind the curtains of their own self-righteousness, they’re secretly wetting themselves in anxious anticipation, yet at the podium, they still possess the nerve to exclaim: “You’ll be fine.” Oh. I am relieved. 

Jay Carney, continuing in his affable tradition of never knowing a damn thing– though, his new Grizzly Adams beard lends an air of gravitas while he’s doing it, so that’s something–stated he “didn’t see the article. I’m not aware of those statements”. Ignorance is bliss. At least, that is, until it isn’t. Can we aim for ditching it before, like Wily E. Coyote, we look down and realize the cliff we were travelling on isn’t there anymore? For a change?

Reportedly, the back end of the website has yet to be built–one reason, presumably, that the White House canned CGI and installed Accenture in their stead. The “back end” is the portion of the website that “talks” to the insurance companies, telling them who you are, which policy you’ve selected, which subsidies you get. How much you owe them. You know, trivialities really.

Meanwhile, Sebelius assures the insurance companies they’ll get their money. “I mean we will get them paid,” she said. “There is no question about that, so we are on track.” What I wouldn’t give for the companies to play Stewie to the administration’s Brian. A guy can dream, right? Where’s my money, man?!

For now, though, it’s all on the “guess-timate” honor system: “Here’s who we think we have, and here’s the subsidy we think they’re owed,” explains Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. ”

“There’s no way to effectively match policies and people,” says Doug Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office. “And on top of that, you can’t match policies, people, to the federal subsidies and that’s a big problem in terms of just the mechanics of making payments.”

No ticky, no laundry.

So looks like mid-March is the bellwether. Either the boat learns to float, or the law craters, taking 1/6 of our economy with it and sending the entire health care industry into a Top Gun tail spin. Except in our story, we’re Goose. We know it didn’t turn out too well for him, now did it?

You know, I hear Mars is mighty nice that time of year…

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About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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