Poll: Failed Obamacare Launch Fueling Doubts About Broader Program

Posted: Oct 22, 2013 10:25 AM

Yesterday we highlighted CNN's latest poll showing that Obamacare is, per usual, quite unpopular (41/56 approval). But the law has been languishing in that underwater range for quite awhile. A new Washington Post-ABC News national survey, however, contains fresh troubling news for the Obama administration:

This sentiment is intuitive: "If they can't build a functioning website after three years and $300 million, how can they possibly manage the country's healthcare system properly?" Roughly six-in-ten Americans now worry that Obamacare's disastrous roll-out augurs badly for the program as a whole. Majorities of Republicans and independents hold this view, while the "isolated incident" wish-casting is primarily driven by credulous Democrats. At his instant-classic photo-op debacle yesterday, the president issued a litany of risible assertions. Some were so far-fetched as to be self-defeating, but one in particular must be forcefully rebutted every time it's trotted out:

Liberals are now arguing that the website's failures should be considered separately and apart from any assessments of Obamacare itself. The actual program, they say, will work great -- just as soon as these "glitches" are dealt with. This is wrong on several levels: (1) See the 'intuitive sentiment' described above. It has merit. To wit, zero people have fully enrolled in Obamacare through New York's state exchange. That's a state that, like Maryland, went out of its way to make the law work. (2) Obamacare's website is Obamacare. The healthcare overhaul cannot work unless millions of young, healthy comply with the individual mandate tax, and overpay for coverage. That's a tall order to begin with, and it sure as hell isn't going to happen if the website keeps crashing for weeks on end. You cannot require people to buy insurance, then fail to provide them with a reasonable method of doing so. The websites are the gateway to the rest of the law, and that gateway is hopelessly clogged due to government incompetence and political ass-covering. If you believe those two characteristics will simply float away, rather than pervade the entire system, you're deluding yourself.

(3) Even if Obama flipped a magic switch tomorrow, and the dark technological clouds instantly lifted, the product and prices still will not be "good." Yes, certain Americans will benefit from Obamacare. Conservatives never argued otherwise. Indeed, these are the people who are bending over backward to enroll in the program, increasing concerns about an insurance "death spiral." But Obamacare was sold as a law that would help everyone. Annual premiums would drop by $2,500 per family, healthcare-related deficits would go down, overall national health spending would decrease, and any one who was satisfied with his or her current arrangement had no reason to worry. Every single one of these pledges is false. Millions of Americans will, in fact, be worse off under Obamacare. The underlying product will be objectively bad for many, and terrible for almost everyone, relative to the political vows upon which it was marketed. CNN Money surveyed its readers and aggregated their complaints about the Obamacare experience. Two of the top four complaints dealt with the tech mess (Consumer Reports counsels people to simply "stay away from" healthcare.gov altogether), but the other two were related to higher costs. Spiking out-of-pocket expenses, dropped coverage, limited access, part-time work, and significantly inflated national spending. These are the real flaws of Obamacare, and they're going to stick around long after the "trainwreck" has been cleared away -- whenever that might be. Via the NRCC, Obama's "no matter what" pledge:

The reality: "Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies." The CBO has estimated that between six and twenty million Americans will ultimately uprooted from their pre-Obamacare plans, with other estimates ranging much higher. The administration has also abandoned its "keep your doctor" promise, perhaps in part because their program is exacerbating America's doctor shortage.

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