All Systems Go? Down To The Wire On Health Law’s Implementation


State Exchange Director: “I have no idea what this thing’s going to look like on Oct. 1.”

The Obama administration’s signature health law is scheduled to officially launch tomorrow, but it appears the delays and missed deadlines that have plagued implementation will continue. The New York Times reports, “across the country, officials are issuing warnings that despite fevered efforts, their new insurance exchanges – online markets where people can shop for health plans and see if they qualify for federal subsidies – will not be fully operational for weeks or even months.”

So what about October 1? The director of Oregon’s exchange says, “I have no idea what this thing’s going to look like on Oct. 1. … We could crash and burn and have to close it down.” It is no surprise then that he, “has done everything in his power to tamp down expectations for its opening on Tuesday.” The administration is adopting the same posture, fully embracing a “soft launch,” and a former HHS administrator that was in charge of exchange operations going so far at to warn, “you may see a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.

The Wall Street Journal adds, “Obama administration officials scrambling to get the health law’s insurance marketplaces ready to open on Tuesday keep hitting technical problems, while government-funded filed workers across the country say they aren’t fully prepared to help Americans enroll in the program.” Delays have been a central theme throughout implementation, and as open enrollment looms, the domino effect is becoming clearer.  

The WSJ further elaborated, “Nonprofit groups and brokers that will help enroll consumers in the marketplaces, known as exchanges, say they haven’t yet had a chance to preview the systems. Technical problems have limited certification for some nonprofit workers involved. And some of these groups say they haven’t fully staffed up for the influx…The people [Navigators] who are supposed to help enroll Americans if the computer systems don’t work properly aren’t fully ready either.”  Energy and Commerce Committee members have already expressed their concerns about the Navigators’ tight timeline.

Despite the administration’s commitment to its message that the law is “working the way it is supposed to” and everything is “on track,” the continued onslaught of news reports indicating otherwise does nothing to instill confidence in the administration. All systems go?