NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 5, 2014

Obamacare: Failure through incompetence, or by design?

It’s April: Got insurance?

Inevitable news story: As uninsured people tried desperately to meet the March 31 deadline, the Obamacare system crashed again. I’d tell you how many people actually got enrolled and paid their premium, but you can’t believe any numbers — or much of anything else — coming out of the Obama administration, and all you’ll hear from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is that it’s not his fault, whatever it is.

Today, a congressional committee is demanding answers from his administration about the state’s broken Health Connector website and its security protections: Apparently the lax protocols have put people at risk of identity theft. Health Connector Executive Director Jean Yang is expected to testify about problems with the state’s exchange before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, sent a letter last week about his concerns to Patrick, who cheerfully whistled past the graveyard in his usual denial mode. “I don’t think we have a reason to be concerned,” Patrick said. Good to know.

In my office, the remaining staffer not yet on Medicare does seem to be insured with a new plan, as our broker worked out something to get Chip’s unnecessary pediatric dental care covered. His deductible doubled, though.

But, but ... our congressman, John Tierney, told us, “If you like the plan you have, you keep it.”

Here’s something new. During a recent visit to his doctor, Chip was handed a notice about “a new and innovative concept in patient care: share medical appointments,” including shared annual physicals. You may pause to inject your own image-joke here; so far, everyone we’ve told came up with something about an assembly-line prostate exam.

Can’t blame the doctors, after the stories we’re hearing about the time they are going to spend now filling out the Obamacare code books, in which they must give detailed descriptions of roughly 68,000 various procedures like “Code W61.01XA: bitten by a parrot, initial encounter” and “Code V97.33XD, sucked into a jet engine, subsequent encounter” (from March 25 Globe story by Steven Syre). I think the reference is to the second encounter between doctor and patient, not between patient and jet engine, but it’s not clear.

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