ObamaCare Has Boondoggle Written All Over It

by Diane Dimond on November 4, 2013

Judge ObamaCare Like Any Other Consumer Product

So, ponder this hypothetical case.

A corporation comes up with a feel-good project that’s designed to help people. Corporate PR teams talk up the altruistic nature of the plan. The campaign attracts more than $400 million in private investment money. Everyone is super excited to see the finished product.

When the corporation finally rolls out the super-hyped project it is immediately clear that it is a stupendous dud. Promises have been broken, long term goals are unlikely to be met and investors are screaming mad that they had been so roundly deceived.

“Someone must pay!”

“Damn corporations, always feeding off the public!”

“Someone should go to jail for perpetrating such a scheme!”

DOJ Investigates Bad Corporations, Why Not Bad Government?

In this scenario, the U.S. Justice Department would likely launch an investigation for fraud, racketeering and other criminal offenses. Top corporate executives would become household names – uttered with contempt for how they had so adroitly duped the public out of their hard earned money.

Okay, now. With that set-up in mind replace the “corporation” with the team in Washington that ushered in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and what have we got? Calls for accountability or an investigation? Not by a long shot.

We’ve gotten apologies, hand-wringing and promises to fix the horrendously malfunctioning website. The architects of the $400 million-plus government program have pretty much ignored questions about problems discovered since ObamaCare launched. The questions have nothing to do with computer glitches and everything to do with built-in systemic flaws.

Let’s be honest. There is a lot more wrong with the ACA than just that poorly designed and executed website.

Sebelius Admits ObamaCare Roll Out A “Debacle”

At the very least, I’d like to know who made the call to hire CGI – a Canada-based computer firm – to design a website representing an American president’s legacy program. CGI is a firm with a sketchy reputation for large scale computer designs. In 2012, the company failed to build and launch a $46.2 million diabetes registry in Canada.

Who in the world thought that just a year later CGI could handle designing a $98 million dollar ObamaCare website – more than double the amount of the botched project they left behind in Canada? Didn’t anyone in Washington vet this company’s past performance record?

During ragingly partisan congressional hearings this week Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to consumers for the “flawed launch” of HealthCare.gov but said she had nothing to do with choosing CGI.

As a taxpayer whose money was used to fund this thing I’d like to have a name, please.

The Birthplace of ObamaCare

And I’d like someone – maybe Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill who rammed through ObamaCare – to answer questions about the fairness of the system.

Like, who came up with the bright idea that struggling young people should be forced to shoulder an unbalanced premium burden or face government fines?

Or this question:  Will those who sign up for the program really get good medical care when countless top hospitals and doctors, nationwide, say they plan to refuse to participate?

And why are a shocking number of Americans already getting cancellation notices from their private insurance companies – hundreds of thousands of cancellations so far. I thought ObamaCare was designed to put people on the insurance rolls not kick them off.

Promise After Promise After Promise

What was it the President has been promising?

“If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”

“No matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health-care plan you can keep it.”

And my personal favorite: “Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health-care plan they have.”

Yeah, right.

Tell me, how could the president be so wrong about a major feature of his pet project?

The consultancy firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates estimates that of the 19 million Americans covered in the individual insurance market about 16 million of them have plans that do not measure up to ObamaCare’s stringent new rules. Those plans without the “essential benefits” like coverage for substance abuse, mental health or maternity services are being cancelled, stranding citizens in a sea of doubt about what to do next.

They Knew Millions Would be Cancelled

Now there are reports that the Administration realized well in advance that once ACA went into effect most private insurance companies would be forced to cancel millions of American’s policies.

Yet the president kept promising no one would lose their health care plan.

This program is going to cost millions of us more than just the hundreds of millions earmarked to launch it. The Manhattan Institute has studied the practical effect of ObamaCare and reports as customers struggle to replace their cancelled policies they’ll face out-of-pocket premium increases that average 62% for women, and a mind-boggling 99% increase for men.

Look, I wish life was completely fair and everyone had cradle-to-grave high quality health insurance. But that’s never going to happen. There has to be a better way than the path we’re on. And take it from me; the inherent problems with ObamaCare are not going to smooth out over time. It’s likely they could get worse.

It is simply not fair to punish the majority in an effort to provide the minority with health insurance.

A Nationwide Mess

It is time to set aside all the political in-fighting surrounding this fundamentally flawed program. Looking at it through common sense glasses it is plain to see ACA has boondoggle written all over it. It is time to start talking about how to either fix it or toss it out and go back to the drawing table.

We are so quick to demand corporate responsibility – and swift punishment – when we perceive consumers have been had. Why are we so reticent to hold the government to the same standard?

After all, we’re paying the bill.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:03 am

ABQ Journal Reader Sally Scrivner writes:

“Thank you for this excellent article. I only hope a bunch of Americans wake up. They seem to be besotted by Obama, or they are scared they will lose their government jobs! Thanks again.”

Sally Scrivner, New Mexico resident

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

ABQ Journal Reader Hank Racette writes:

“Diane,

Great column on ACA. You say “I’d like to know who made the call to hire CGI…”
If you google Toni Townes-Whitley there’s an interesting connection between Michelle Obama and Toni Townes-Whitley, an executive of CGI.

You undoubtedly may have already seen all that FOX News information but, if you have not, it’s easy to google.

I have to doubt that the government could possibly give a huge contract to an incompetent company on the strength of an old college relationship but anything seems possible with the present administration.

But somebody picked CGI. And it sounds like CGI is still getting more work.”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

ABQ Journal Reader Bert Kortebgaard writes:

“Thanks for your column, pertinent and well written as usual.

Personally, I believe we are on the brink of permanently losing a sense of national unity.

I believe a strong minority of Americans do still seek ways to hold the government accountable to us all, but that many more are single-interest groups who will support any government whatever it does so long as they believe it furthers their personal greed or hatred.

The indignation I sense in your brave critique saddens me.”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:10 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dave Hesse writes:

“How could anyone disagree that the ACA is an absolute mess?? Yet there are those who argue that it is perfect!! Amazing!!

Now, having said that, I have a few comments..We must remember that the law was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama..and that was , what, over three years ago…So..where was all this outcry and pushback during the last three years?? Did folks just suddenly wake up and find flaws in the law?? The whole thing was done in a “fever”..that resulted in a lot of stuff getting into the law that just doesn’t make sense..that’s all very true…..so..did those flaws not exist back then??

Or is this outcry, etc, just another way to take pot shots at the President…After all, we can’t let Obama have any credit for doing anything really good for the people, can we??

You are correct..we will never have cradle-to-grave great health coverage..why?? Because of the insurance companies..they will profitize any chance they get..including canceling costly policies and then charging more for the same coverage under the guise of complicity with the ACA…Anyone who pays attention realizes that many of the cancelled policies just don’t comply with the requirements of good health coverage as specified y the new law…it is natural that policies that do comply will provide better coverage and then naturally would cost more..simple as that…… right?

I’m beginning to think that the only way we will all have cradle -to-grave health care is via a single payor system….I was in the Air Force where our health care was basically socialized medicine..and now I am with the VA, also socialized medicine.and, at the age of 75, I am in very good shape..yep, I had prostate cancer, caused by my exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, but survived that and am thriving..oh, I do have to take some Alleve’s each morning to keep my arthritis from bugging me during the day while I’m at my 30 hour a week part-time job delivering auto and auto body parts……anyway, you get my point. You got a nice spread in the local paper here making your points about a boondoggle…but I think you are like too many others who just can’t stand having Obama as President, and you take advantage of your occupation to spread your dislike…I’d like to give you some advice…follow the advice of that noted bag of wind, Rush Limbaugh..”Until you can elect a President, then just keep your mouth (and pen) shut!!!”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

Where was the push back three years ago, you ask? Perhaps you don’t remember the infamous words uttered by the then-Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, when she arrogantly said the public could get to see what was in the Affordable Care Act AFTER THEY PASSED IT. No one really knew what was in this law as the majority party rammed it through.
In this hectic world in which we live voters forgot about the impending law that was to take effect October 1, 2013. And then when it went into effect (or tried to via that cockamamie website) the problems came rushing to the public consciousness. Having said that – don’t you remember for the last few years the warnings about ObamaCare and what would happen if it went into effect? Republicans in the House tried to vote it out of being 40 times!!! Few people listened to the warnings.

Bottom line, Mr. Hesse, you have me pegged completely wrong. I am a registered independent voter (and thinker) – always have been. Our duly elected president is Barack Obama and I respect that. But it doesn’t mean I have to like each and every program that comes from his Administration.

Sorry, in my America every citizen (and journalist) has the right to express their opinion. I will keep neither my mouth or my pen shut when I think there is a grave financial injustice being done to my country.

I think it may border on criminal malfeasance. Thanks for taking the time to write. I am posting your comment on my website – under the column in question – as I welcome all points of view. Even if I disagree with them. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

ABQ Journal Reader Chris Jones writes:

“I always furrow my corrugator supercilii when I see red herrings or straw men used as rhetorical devices in an op ed piece. Your analogy to typical corporate malfeasance is pretty weak. Indeed, most corporate misrepresentations are intentional, where they conspire to take advantage of the unsuspecting public. Nothing could be further from the unfortunately ugly situation at ACA.

But what seems to be your main argument, that people are not allowed to keep their precious existing health insurance: puh-leeze get a grip. Even someone smart, like you, can read the mountain of anecdotal evidence that most of those policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Many of those policies that some Americans think are so dear to their peace of mind wouldn’t pay enough to cover the most basic care, and I can bet that many of them would exclude many common diseases. If you really believe what you wrote, then I have a bridge in NYC to sell you for a great price.

And if something should happen to you like it did to me, where I ended up paralyzed from the waist down, how much would you bet that those precious policies wouldn’t kick you off the roles faster than you can say ACA?

Thanks but no thanks.”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

Chris:

You write: >> most corporate misrepresentations are intentional, where they conspire to take advantage of the unsuspecting public. << Funny, that's just about how I would describe ObamaCare. YOU may think the insurance policies people have now are, " not worth the paper they are printed on" - but policyholders don't believe that and that's what counts. Consumers have the right to pick the insurance policy of their (own) choice. The should NOT have be forced to buy a policy that includes what the government decides are "essential" elements. For example: I'm of the age where I don't need maternity coverage, thank you very much. But if I was one of the unlucky who HAD to sign up for ObamaCare I would be forced to get a policy that included maternity benefits, and coverage for drug and mental health problems. I don't need any of that, I don't want that....and millions of other Americans who are now scrambling to replace their cancelled policies don't want to pay for needless (and more expensive) coverage either. That, my friend, is "taking advantage of the unsuspecting public" in my book. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

ABQ Journal Reader Russell Bell writes:

“Ms Dimond:

Thanks for your opinion. In it you wrote, ‘I wish life was completely fair and everyone had cradle-to-grave high-quality health insurance. But that’s never going to happen.’

Canadians and most Europeans have high-quality medical care cradle-to-grave and it comes at the expense of the majority for the benefit of a minority (as all medical insurance does: I’ve paid about
$30,000 for medical insurance over the last 16 years; until I got a subsidized shingles vaccine a week ago it paid for none of my medical care for half the price with less morbidity and mortality.

The US government already pays for half of the medical care delivered in the US when one adds up Medicare, Medicaid, military medical care, VA, premiums paid for federal employees, the BIA, etc. If we had a system as efficient as Canada’s we’d pay for everyone’s medical care for that amount alone.

I’m against all this but medical care for all is possible: we choose otherwise.

I’m against the ACA; when my policy becomes invalid in 2015 I will have to pay nearly twice as much (though for more coverage).
(Notice that no insurer has to discontinue any policy before 2015; those that do so choose.) I’m also against Medicare, Medicaid, and the Emergency Medical Transport and Active Labor Act.

Thanks for your attention.”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

Twitter Pal olivernoodle writes:

“@DiDimond its almost like he (Obama) WANTS everyone to depend on the govt!”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:52 am

Oliver –

Its a fact. Those who live as dependents of the government very rarely vote to change the party in power. They might lose their government support. You see the long-game here! ~ DD

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

Twitter follower EDinCali writes:

“@DiDimond The tyranny of the minority”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

Facebook Friend Alan Christie writes:

“The ACA (Obamacare), may or may not work for the long-haul, but American’s health insurance being tied to an employer’s generosity, or lack thereof has never worked for millions, and never will. No answers here, but some BIG thinkers should be able to come up with a system that can benefit the vast majority of U.S. citizens.”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

I’m with you Alan,
I don’t have solutions – I just believe there has to be a better way! ~ DD

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 11:59 am

Facebook Friend Al Patrick writes:

“By the time I was 40 I had used about $200,000 dollars worth of medical care. Possibly more. I never paid more than $20 a paycheck in premiums. That has to stop. If you don’t want to pay for REAL health care costs. And you don’t want the government to pay for REAL health care costs. Who then? The ghost of Michael Jackson maybe?”

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Diane Dimond November 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Facebook Friend Doug O’Brien writes:

“Someone elsewhere pointed out there are 317 million people in the U.S. and the administration has spend $350 million so far just to promote Obamacare. So, the rationale goes, had the advertising budget been given to the citizenry for healthcare, this entire problem would be largely solved. Works for me.”

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 12:38 am

Twitter Pal MaggioMatt writes:

“#Obamacare will drive “offshoring” and automation of all possible remaining jobs – causing real unemployment to soar. @DiDimond”

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 12:40 am

Twitter Pal daisyj123 writes:

“@DiDimond so true!!! Obama care is horrific for the middle class!!”

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 12:42 am

Twitter Pal ShrinkTweets writes:

” @DiDimond Totally disagree w/your negativity. This will take time but it will b 4 the better. SS and Medicare went thru worse adjust time.”

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 12:45 am

Shrink Tweets –
Let’s compare Obamacare notes in a year – or five years! See how its going then. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 12:45 am

Twitter Pal April8622 writes:

“@DiDimond interesting article let’s face it the #ACA is not perfect and needs improvement but i applaud the #POTUS 4 taking the big step.”

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Diane Dimond November 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Twitter Pal maletto2 writes:

“@DiDimond small companies are getting shafted. There is no penalty for the co. I work for even if there was less than policy.”

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CLS November 6, 2013 at 3:37 am

This is a very interesting article. However, I’m going to say those two ugly words nobody wants to hear, which I believe we should have, instead of ObamaCare. They are “socialized healthcare.” Or for those who find the word “socialized” too frightening, I’ll say the words “single-taxpayer healthcare.”I know there are pros and cons to it. But having traveled a good deal, in this world, I know not one person living in a country, with socialized healthcare, who regards it as evil. I have had too many of my friends question why America is so backward, and about all I can do is hang my head in embarrassment.

The current “healthcare” system in America isn’t working. Will the new system work? I have my doubts about that, too. Perhaps we should remove insurance companies from the equation and use our tax money for real healthcare for real people.

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Diane Dimond November 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Bernice Newman,

“Diane Dimond,

I read your articles in the Journal in Albuquerque, NM.

The article, “ACA has boondoggle written all over it” which was in the Sat, Nov 2, 2013 paper, was interesting. You wrote, “I’d like to know who made the call to hire CGI…”
Well, Have you investigated the information that the man who owns CGI was a classmate and/or worked with Michelle Obama in Chicago? Who else would recommend this person and no one would investigate him and/or his company.

I do believe that the President has known all along that what he was saying about Abama Care was a lie.

I enjoy your articles. Keep them coming.”

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Tim Hurley November 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Hi Di – you write, “It is simply not fair to punish the majority in an effort to provide the minority with health insurance.”
Shouldn’t that be reversed? Isn’t it a majority that doesn’t have healthcare? Affecting a minority?
Also – social security had big problems when it first rolled out. I do thought totally agree about CGI.
I feel you really can’t discuss the ACA without noting the lack of cooperation and deliberate sabotage by half of our elected government. We never seen this level of lack of cooperation in our lifetime.

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Douglas Heyn December 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Diane;
“Like, who came up with the bright idea that struggling young people should be forced to shoulder an unbalanced premium burden or face government fines?”

It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Substitute ‘old age retirement’ for young and working and viola. we have the ponzi scheme called Social Security.

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Diane Dimond December 23, 2013 at 11:40 am

ABQ Journal Reader Douglas Heyn writes:

Diane;
Quoting you: “Like, who came up with the bright idea that struggling young people should be forced to shoulder an unbalanced premium burden or face government fines?”

It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Substitute ‘old age retirement’ for young and working and viola. we have the ponzi scheme called Social Security.”

Reply

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