The GOP Gave Obamacare an IT Bailout

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 2 2013 9:34 AM

The GOP Gave Obamacare an IT Bailout

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DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 1: Gabino Perez knows about the program and plans to apply for coverage under the ACA. Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces are set to go into effect today.

Photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images

The Obama administration has two main pieces of spin on yesterday's widespread technical problems with the launch of Affordable Care Act websites. One is that new technical product launches are often glitchy and we should have faith that issues will be resolved quickly, and the other is that the technical problems are in part a reflection of the widespread public interest in the sites, which is fundamentally a bullish sign from the program.

Those are both decent pieces of spin, but they really are just spin. There isn't, as far as I can tell, hard evidence that unexpected traffic loads were the key to the problem. Nor is there hard evidence that these are problems that will be solved rapidly.

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What HHS really has going for it is a weird bailout from House Republicans. Their anti-Obamacare zeal has shut down the government and is threatening a debt ceiling breach. That's drastically reducing the prominence of these issues in the media and gives HHS some extra time to work this stuff out. And if what they say is true and we're just a few revisions and extra tests away from a working system, then it'll all be great and nobody will remember the Great Security Question Dropdown Menu Snafu of 2013 in the history books.

But liberals shouldn't fool themselves. This was an embarassing failure. What's more, it's genuinely true that projects of this nature and scope are hard to pull off. That means errors are forgiveable but also that errors are potentially hard to fix. People who believe in the underlying goal here should be a bit nervous.

Have you tried using healthcare.gov? Let us know what you think of the site's user experience in the comments below, or send your thoughts to SlateACA@gmail.com.

 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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