October 24, 2013

In the theatre of the absurd (aka Monkey Court) that is the most recent Congressional hearing over the rollout of Healthcare.gov, Republicans are pretending they've never, ever seen a program roll out with any glitches like the ones that hang the health exchange website.

Watch Joe "Sorry, BP" Barton concern troll over the issues with the federal health exchange website, and contrast that with his reassurances back in 2006 when the Medicare Part D program rolled out.

Oh, how they do flip-flop, don't they?


A few weeks into the launch of the most sweeping health care reform law in a generation, John Boehner declared that the implementation was a disaster.

"The implementation," the Republican leader said, "has been horrendous. We've made it far more complicated than it should be."

Boehner, of course, was talking about the rollout of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit -- known as Part D -- enacted in 2003 by President George W. Bush. He discussed the implementation woes during a Feb. 6, 2006 appearance on "Fox News Sunday," on his fifth day as House majority leader.

But did he want to repeal the benefit? No. The future Speaker soberly acknowledged the problems but saw potential in the law and called for improving it. "The good news is that the competition that's being created has lowered premiums significantly below where Congress thought they'd be when we put the bill together, so the competition side is good," he said. "I think the implementation side continues to need to be improved."

It was a rough time for the law's proponents. The soft launch was "anything but smooth," according to the Washington Post, marred by at least two delays along with other, deeper problems. Upon launch, the Bush administration admitted to receiving "tens of thousands of complaints by seniors, pharmacists and others" about implementation failures. Health and Human Services vowed to "fix every problem as quickly as possible."

Boehner was far from alone in pushing to fix the problematic law, rather than repealing or dismantling it. And his judgment was vindicated -- the Medicare Part D program turned out to be a success, expanding medical coverage for millions of seniors at a lower cost than many expected. Today it is a fixture of the Medicare program. Fortunately for Bush and his party, Democrats were a willing partner in tweaking and improving the law.

It also helps if one visits the right site. One representative related his story of visiting Healthcare.com, which is assuredly NOT Healthcare.gov.

Yeah, what a difference a little intellectual honesty makes. Remember these flashbacks when you see them polluting our airwaves heaving deep, odorous sighs and clucking about how the ACA just won't work. Because website glitches.

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