Thursday, August 21, 2014

Congress, not Sebelius should resign after federal blunders

10/14/2013

Sign-ups for the federal Affordable Care Act have gone amazingly poorly based on a variety of factors — from computer problems from heavy demands, a lack of preparation and even overly ambitious rollout plans. A nation with mixed feelings about the health care reform bill, alternately known as Obamacare, didn’t help either, nor did the federal government’s partial shutdown.

Yet, despite all of these missteps, it is beyond bizarre that U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., — who himself is part of the do-nothing Congress that has the government shut down — would call for the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, for gross incompetence.

Sign-ups for the federal Affordable Care Act have gone amazingly poorly based on a variety of factors — from computer problems from heavy demands, a lack of preparation and even overly ambitious rollout plans. A nation with mixed feelings about the health care reform bill, alternately known as Obamacare, didn’t help either, nor did the federal government’s partial shutdown.

Yet, despite all of these missteps, it is beyond bizarre that U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., — who himself is part of the do-nothing Congress that has the government shut down — would call for the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, for gross incompetence.

According to Roberts’ logic, the rollout has gone badly, so she must resign her office because her department oversees its implementation. Hmmm, does the same logic apply to the U.S. Congress? Surely Congress’ inaction and lack of ability to accomplish much of anything for several years demands a similar response.

All Americans must ask their U.S. House and Senate members to resign because of their gross incompetence.   

“Today we know, the problems with the exchanges are systematic, profound and indisputable,” Roberts said in a press release Friday. “And yet the secretary won’t shoot straight with the American people.”

Sadly those exact words could be used on Roberts and Congress too.

“Today we know, the problems with Congress are systematic, profound and indisputable, and yet Congress won’t shoot straight with the American people,” Americans could say in unison.

Political games clearly were at work with the Obama administration’s deployment of the Affordable Care Act on a far-too-ambitious schedule. Roberts’ opposition to the health care law has been long-standing, so it would be unusual to see him offer a solution or statesmanship to find an alternative to the problems with the rollout. (It would have made more sense to deploy the Affordable Care Act on one or two states at a time, starting with smaller states so that necessary tweaks could be completed before tackling another state. Problems could have been mitigated and success could have been achieved incrementally rather than trying to do it essentially overnight.)

When the Internal Revenue Service started offering online tax filing, it wasn’t mandated for everyone to do so within one year. Even online giants Facebook, Twitter and others didn’t take on the entire country simultaneously — it occurred systematically.

Yes, this deployment hasn’t gone well. And, yes, Sebelius should “own it,” but she also ought to be part of fixing the problematic timeline. Sebelius is a smart policymaker who would be better suited to rectifying the deployment strategy with more realistic goals than to throw her out of office leaving a problem for someone else to solve.

The Affordable Care Act obviously has high interest, or there wouldn’t be so many people trying to get online to research it and sign up for a plan.

The Obama administration and its cabinet, which includes Sebelius, need to get their acts together to re-imagine the rollout for the Affordable Care Act. Roberts and his colleagues in Congress, on the other hand, are in no position to be asking someone else to resign without looking in the mirror first.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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