In early 2010, Barack Obama saw the White House physician. This, the presidential check-up, may be an ideal symbol -- and a starting point -- for what ails American medicine.
Right now, we know some things about the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov and the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, but it's what we don't know that should keep us all up at night.
When I initially tested positive for HIV, I was a writer at a national law firm. The position was well-paid -- and I absolutely hated it. But the position afforded me the Mercedes-Benz of health insurance. What else could a newly positive boy ask for, right? At least that's what I tried to tell myself.
The holidays are right around the corner. It's no wonder I've got shopping on the mind. And as with the contagion of Christmas music in a mall, I can't help but join the carol of intrigue surrounding the new health care marketplace.
The unpopularity of the Republican right-wing agenda is demonstrated in poll after poll. Congress itself has never been more unpopular in history. And yet, according to Krauthammer, the problems with the healthcare.gov website "will discredit Obama's new liberalism for years to come."
My life and my heart were full -- a wonderful husband, three great children, a fantastic job with good benefits -- but in just one day I went from being a perfectly healthy 41-year-old woman to a breast cancer patient.
Even if Obamacare does help a lot of people, my question is: at what political cost and at what long-term cost to effective social insurance? Both the conception and the roll out of The Affordable Care Act will set back the effort of liberal Democrats to persuade regular people that government can be a force for the broad public good (Social Security has no such problems). The ACA is the social-policy equivalent of the Pentagon's apocryphal $800 hammer. Even with a great deal of catch-up and good luck, it will take a miracle for Obamacare not to be a net loser for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections.
The latest polls on Obamacare are bleak. But those poll numbers will change as more people are finally able to shop for coverage on the new health insurance websites -- and find coverage that is surprisingly affordable.
It's time for Team Obama to read a few Management 101 books and come up with a plan for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act that is more than politics, press conferences and empty promises.
As President Kennedy suggested 50 years ago, we know that this will not be easy, but will be hard. America can and will win on this issue of providing its citizens quality and affordable health care.
The ancient Greeks liked to say that character is fate.The colossal mess that Obamacare has become reflects both the character of the legislation and that of the president who sponsored it. The Affordable Care Act, as a government mandate for people to purchase private insurance with an array of possible subsidies, had too many moving parts. It was an accident waiting to happen. As many of us wrote at the time, Medicare for All would be simpler to execute, easier to understand, and harder for Republicans to oppose. But this was not to be. Instead we got a program that was poorly understood by the public because it was almost impossible to explain and even harder to execute.
The self-inflicted roll out farce of the Affordable Care website is nothing short of high "drama." It may have more lasting political damage to Obama's presidency than any intransigence or opposition of the Tea Party and Republican members of Congress.
"We're just gently nudging younger people into seeing how beneficial the new health care system is," says Health and Human Services/Biological Havoc spokesperson Alan Kollop.
The media have taken the bait, and reduced an important policy debate to the bite-size of what fits on cable news in between stories about celebrity break-ups and new diet books. The idea they are parroting fits on a bumper sticker.
1. Maximum Age for Dependent Medical Coverage: ObamaCare: 26; MamaCare: None. It's always and forever
With all the linkages, there are two similarities between health care and education that have not received as much attention: a largely intractable problem, poverty, and a cautionary message about technology.