|Obamacare and you, in one flowchart. (credit to Nick Beaudrot)|
In a strange turn, I didn't take time on Tuesday to write a post commenting on the official launch of Obamacare's exchanges, which took place somewhat ironically in spite of the shutdown. So, has the sky fallen in? Are we all preparing ourselves for a lifetime of meek serfdom and slavery to our glorious socialist Kenyan leader? Well, not quite. Since the shutdown is what's grabbing headlines right now, the launch hasn't been as widely covered as it might have otherwise been, which in some sense is a good thing, because it gives the administration a bit more time to iron out the problems.
What coverage I have seen has made much of the many glitches and long wait times people have been facing to sign up for insurance online. Naturally, the usual suspects living in the Conservative Echo Chamber see the glitches as the first sign of the law falling flat at launch, with Sean Hannity going so far as to insinuate that the website's problems might hinder emergency ambulance care in one of the most bizarre segments of his show I've ever seen. To be sure, if the issues aren't fixed in the next few days or weeks, it could be problematic insofar as people may give up on trying to sign up. However, what people like Hannity seem to overlook is the fact that most of the glitches are coming from the huge number of people trying to get insurance. Simply put, the exchanges are popular. Ezra Klein summed it up well earlier this week:
"So on the one hand, Washington was shut down because Republicans don't want Obamacare. On the other hand, Obamacare was nearly shut down because so many Americans wanted Obamacare."Moreover, it would behoove those covering the launch to recall that when Medicare Part D launched in 2006, it was wildly unpopular--even more so than Obamacare--and launched with its own array of bugs and logistical issues. But woe unto any politician today that hints at repealing or even trimming down the program. And that is what terrifies many in the GOP about Obamacare: they aren't worried the law will fail and be bad for Americans, they're worried it will succeed and, like Medicare, become a permanent fixture of American society.