ONUMBA.COM – By now, everyone is probably copiously aware that the Obamacare website rollout has been nothing but an epic disaster, a chaotic blend of a lousy website, a fumbled rollout and a daisy-chain of missteps responding to the whole mess.
The bug plagued blastoff of the healthcare.gov website, which many see as the signature achievement of the Obama presidency, has betrayed the promise of a great start to a new era in health care coverage due to a plethora of crippling hiccups among which are glitches, crashes, delays, frozen screens and all sorts of headache just accessing the website.
And then there’s the more serious issue concerning consumer privacy to cap it all off.
In short, it all summed up to a extraordinarily woeful month for the president, a disaster of monumental zenith. But through it all, an often petered-out looking Obama remained optimistic, mixing that with a humbling apology for the mess on which the media has been feasting.
“I am sorry,” the president told the American people followed by a seemingly gutsy assurance, after implementing a “tech surge,” that the beleaguered website will be rectified and ready to go by the end of the November.
“I’m confident that it will be even better by November 30th and that the majority of people are going to be able to get on there,” said Obama, who, of course, is not a website designer.
The president’s words: “They’re going to be able to enroll. They’re going to be able to apply. And they’re going to get a good deal – a better deal than they’ve got right now when it comes time to buying health insurance.”
So now, the central question becomes: has the troubled website been fixed as promised?
Well, for the most part, yes, said officials of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The “for the most part’ part of that response largely holds the true meaning of the federal official’s explanation for where the website is at this time in terms of ridding it of hundreds of niggling software bugs.
Federal officials, feeling immense pressure to fix the website, said during a recent press conference with reporters, that while the site is much better than when it first went online months ago, they readily concede that the bug riddled website is not out of the woods yet and still has “hundreds” of software bugs that could get in the way of a trouble-free access, smooth shopping experience and ultimately successful purchase of coverage by users. What that says in short is that it works, but there are still problems.
Their words: “The bottom line — HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1,” said Jeff Zients, an official of the Obama administration, who reported that about “400″ bugs and technical problems were fixed in the system, but did not disclose how many were left to go as they continue to work out the kinks.
Of course, no matter what anyone says, the ultimate test for the supposed fix will come when users start to troop back to the website to shop for coverage in order to beat the Dec. 23 deadline which is required for coverage to start first of the year. Federal officials expect consumer stampede back to the site to start happening soon.
For observers, expectation for how it all will play out could, overall, be described as a cautious mix of confidence and proverbial crossing of fingers, which some might simply call a ‘wait and see’ moment. But for confident federal officials, the expectation, though fused with a modicum of uncertainty, is that when shoppers return to the website in droves, they will have a much smoother experience than before, citing particularly that the problem of previously being unable to process large number of applications at a time has been resolved. According to them, the website is now able to accommodate more than 50,000 users login in at the same time, which tallies up to about 800,000 people being able to shop and purchase coverage in a single day.
If that happens, President Obama will be hugely relieved because not getting this thing right may start to define his entire presidency with three years left to go. The past month has been hellacious and tormenting for him, with the president catching it on the chin from both Republicans and Democrats, while seeing his approval rating tumbling down to a concerning level.
On the one hand, Republicans are cavorting around cockahoop, pillorying Obamacare while relishing the entire healthcare pantomime as a tinderbox they now hope would fuel a cascading effect with future implications for Democrats.
On the other hand, Congressional Democrats who strongly backed the president during the fight against Republicans over the passage of the law, are getting worried, especially those who are facing reelection in a couple of years and fearing that the sloppy rollout of Obamacare could become a campaign issue against them.
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