Viewpoints: Where's Obama's 'Mission Accomplished' banner?; health law critics overlooking those denied affordable care in the past

Published on December 3, 2013 at 2:01 AM · No Comments

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare Mission Accomplished
Great news: The White House says that Healthcare.gov and the 36 federally run insurance exchanges are finally good to go. The only thing missing from Sunday's relentlessly upbeat progress report was President Obama in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner. Sunday's eight-page report was intended to meet Mr. Obama's deadline for fixing the site after its October 1 debut was a calamity. But the more important goal was political -- namely, claiming enough progress to prevent Democrats on Capitol Hill from joining the GOP demand for delaying the individual mandate to buy insurance or even the entire program (12/1).

The New York Times: Rooting For Failure
Yes, it is a big and legitimate news story, for a presidency built on technical expertise, that the federal exchange is not working as promised. Ditto Obama's vow that people could keep their bottom-feeder health care policies. But where were the news conferences, the Fox News alerts, the parading of people who couldn't get their lifesaving cancer treatments under the old system? Where was the media attention when thousands of people were routinely dumped once they got sick? When did Republicans in Congress hold an oversight hearing on the leading cause of personal bankruptcy -- medical debt? (Timothy Egan, 11/28). 

USA Today: Kathleen Sebelius: Improvement Dramatic Over Oct. 1
The new Marketplace is an opportunity for individuals without employer insurance to obtain coverage -- with choice and competition that was previously unavailable. Many Americans and their families are eligible for financial assistance to make insurance even more affordable. Yet, far too many of those who have visited HealthCare.gov have experienced problems. These problems are unacceptable (Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, 12/1).

USA Today: Healthcare.gov Better But Not Yet Well: Our View
A couple of weeks after the disastrous debut of its health insurance website Oct. 1, the Obama administration woke up and finally began doing what it should have done all along, bringing in a competent troubleshooter, consolidating fix-it efforts under a central coordinator and setting a real deadline -- Nov. 30 -- to repair the site. That seems to have worked, at least to some degree. The White House announced Sunday that it had hit its target of having the website function smoothly for "the vast majority" of people who want to sign up, which it defines as about 80 percent (12/1).

Los Angeles Times: As Obamacare Website Relaunches, There Is Reason To Hope
The opportunity to be reborn is a rare gift indeed, granted to few beyond the mythical phoenix and some adherents of the Baptist faith. Them -- and the Affordable Care Act, which this week will undergo what its supporters hope will be a second launch much different from its first. Reports are flowing in that HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment website serving residents of 36 states that didn't bother to set up their own sites, is working much better than at any time since its calamitous launch on Oct. 1 (Michael Hiltzik, 12/1). 

The Washington Post: Obamacare – A Question Of Morality
There was a lot of bloviating about the Affordable Care Act on the talk shows last weekend. The Obamacare critics' chief focus was the open-enrollment fiasco, the un-kept presidential promise and the millions of cancellation notices. Overlaying the palaver was the unrestrained glee of health-reform opponents. The same weekend, in a section of our nation's capital where pompous politicians and self-important opinion-makers seldom venture, the Affordable Care Act was the subject of thanks and praise at the First Baptist Church at Randolph Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW (Colbert I. King, 11/29). 

The Wall Street Journal: In the Trenches With the Obamacare Army
Even when the Obama administration was under the impression that the launch of the Affordable Care Act was going to work splendidly, with a first-rate website, the plan still called for "navigators" to help people sign up. Now, with the ACA website Healthcare.gov hobbled, and even many of the president's supporters grumbling that the law may need a radical rethinking, the work of the tens of thousands of these helpers is more vital than ever. How's it going? Not well, to judge from a visit with navigators in North Carolina, one of 34 states that decided not to open their own health-insurance exchanges (Eliana Johnson, 11/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare's Plans Are Worse
The reason this furor will continue even if the website is fixed is that the public is learning that Obamacare's insurance costs more in return for worse coverage. Mr. Obama and his liberal allies call the old plans "substandard," but he doesn't mean from the perspective of the consumers who bought them (11/29).

Bloomberg: Obamacare: The Result Of All Politics, All The Time
Why were so many stupid, avoidable mistakes made during the preparations for the debut of HealthCare.gov? Why did they go undetected until it was too late? Why did Obama even dare to make his promise that all who wanted to keep their insurance would be able to? Why did it come as such a shock when that promise turned out to be false -- as a moment's thought at any point would have told you it was bound to be? Political dysfunction is part of the answer -- though only part (Clive Crook, 11/27).

Bloomberg: War On Contraception? No, An Attack On Religion
From reading the New York Times, you might think that religious conservatives had started a culture war over whether company health-insurance plans should cover contraception. … That way of looking at the issue will be persuasive if your memory does not extend back two years (Ramesh Ponnuru, 12/1).

The Oregonian: Obamacare Contraception Challenge Has Oregon Implications
Say this for Oregon health care policy: It doesn't think that private employers should get to make decisions about their workers' contraception choices. Bedrooms are crowded enough these days. But a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision on the subject, concluding that because corporations are people they can hold religious beliefs, could topple not only federal law on the subject but also Oregon law. We could find ourselves with a burst of Uncover Oregon, in more ways than one (David Sarasohn, 11/30).

Dallas Morning News: As GOP States Flip, Where's The Texas Answer On Medicaid?
There's a silver lining in the fumbled rollout of Obamacare, even in Texas. Unfortunately, state leaders want nothing to do with it. While HealthCare.gov was freezing up after its Oct. 1 launch, Medicaid enrollment took off. Texas added almost 12,000 people in the first month. That's four times more than signed up on the federal exchange. And Texas isn't even expanding Medicaid (Mitchell Schnurman, 11/30).

The New York Times: Obamacare's Secret Success
The law establishing Obamacare was officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And the "affordable" bit wasn't just about subsidizing premiums. It was also supposed to be about "bending the curve" -- slowing the seemingly inexorable rise in health costs. ...  So, how's it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent? The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic (Paul Krugman, 11/28). 

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