Is the Obamacare Rollout Getting Better? A Second Look.

| Wed Nov. 13, 2013 2:35 PM EST

So how bad is the Obamacare website? This morning I said things were pretty bad, but I've seen some pushback on this. Here's Josh Marshall:

Talked to a few knowledgeable people today. Not so sure people shld be putting much stock in the WaPo piece about the Dec. 1 deadline

Well, it's true that although the WaPo piece said the federal website is unlikely to "work fully" by the end of November, it also said that it would probably be able to handle 20-30,000 simultaneous users. That's not great, but it might not be catastrophic either. If other components can be put in place to ease the load (phone signups, paper signups, insurance company signups, etc.), it would probably allow things to hobble along.

Another reader passed along this Daily Kos piece that suggests progress is being made and most of the problems are fixable. It's interesting reading, though I can't truly evaluate how knowledgeable it is. You'll have to decide for yourself.

More generally, there's the political problem of whether congressional Democrats are starting to crack, which could lead to them signing on to a Republican plan that might allow some people to opt out of Obamacare temporarily. Josh Marshall writes today that this could cripple Obamacare from the start:

For Democrats and especially the President (who can kill any fix with his pen), it's time for the big gut check, one that's not only about 2014 but stretches back into the 1940s and has implications probably decades into the future.

....There are a range of 'fix' plans circulating through Congress right now....I don't know the details well enough to know which are impediments and which are poison pills....[But if] you don't get everyone into the system with at least a base level solid policy there just isn't enough money to cover the sick and the 'bad risks' of people with pre-existing conditions.

So as I said, it's a gut check moment for Democrats. One factual and political point that is getting very little attention is just how many people are affected — people losing policies who will need to pay substantially more without subsidies. This is a critical point and I've seen virtually no reliable data. It's all been a political fog. It is clearly a very, very small part of the population and there is abundant evidence that vastly more people are or soon will have reduced premiums or be able to get insurance that they couldn't get before. The 'winners' greatly outnumber the losers.

....But back to that gut check. Allowing the people with little or no care to stay out of the system makes about as much sense as two people in a canoe on rough water deciding that maybe it will get better if you both stand up. Market failure in the transition to a new system like this can come really hard and fast if you pull the legs out of under it. It took almost 20 years to revisit Health Care after the 1994 debacle. You can only imagine how long it would be if Dems run for the hills now.

So take some hits and let this work its way through or run for the hills and maybe discredit any plan to ensure coverage for all for decades to come....Democrats need to make a choice. And the President does too. It may not be an easy one if they can't get the exchanges in motion rapidly and get the 'plus' sides in motion and visible. But this is the moment when we're going to see what the decision is. And I suspect some stiffening of spines will have to come from the president.

Yep. There's no running away from Obamacare if you're a Democrat. So put all the pressure you want on Obama to get things fixed, but you'd better stick together even if things get tougher than they are now. If you don't hang together, you will surely all hang separately.

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