EDITORIAL: The continuing train wreck

The failure of Obamacare is more than just a bad website

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The Obama administration has finally conceded what everyone expected to happen, that the Obamacare rollout is a train wreck, or, as the bureaucrats put it, “has not lived up to the expectations of the American people.” President Obama tried Monday to get in front of the crisis his signature health care law has written across the front pages. “There’s no sugarcoating it,” he said at the Rose Garden photo op. “The website has been too slow.”

That’s the understatement of the season, and sloth is not the problem. The problem is what Obamacare is doing to real people. Mr. Obama was flanked by other Americans, this time by the rarest of all, the few who actually figured out how to sign up for Obamacare. A Delaware woman said she had found coverage heretofore denied because of a pre-existing condition. The president read a letter from a Pennsylvania man who, he said, saw his premiums drop from $1,600 a month to $692. These make interesting anecdotes, but they don’t reflect the usual experience. NBC News reported Friday that Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 health insurance policies because of Obamacare; in California, Kaiser Permanente is canceling coverage for 160,000 persons. Those policies fall short of what Obamacare requires, beginning Jan. 1.

The president couldn’t resist taking a shot at Republican opponents of Obamacare. “I’m sure that given the problems with the website so far,” he said, “they’re going to be looking to go after it even harder.” So they should, and so they are. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has summoned Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, to explain what’s going on. Perhaps she will do her homework this time. On “The Daily Show” earlier this month, Mrs. Sebelius couldn’t answer the fundamental question of how many people had actually signed up. “Fully enrolled?” she asked. “I can’t tell you, because I don’t know.”

Given that Democrats will find ways to defend the law that makes them sick, too, no matter how bad the rollout continues to be, Republicans have been counseled to stand back and watch Obamacare implode. “Have a little bit of self-restraint,” Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, says. “It might actually be a politically better approach to see the massive dysfunction.”

Waiting to see taxes the patience of the profoundly patient. Ronald Reagan observed that government programs take on eternal life, and Obamacare promises mandates, taxes and death panels in the year 2030. Perhaps the website will be working by then. Perhaps not. But like it or not, watching is all the Republicans can do for now. They can console themselves with the knowledge that President Obama and the Democrats are the most miserable spectators waiting to see.

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