The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has been covered ad infinitum by the US media. As can be expected from such a lightning-rod topic, not all the coverage has been praiseworthy – sometimes, the complaints and critiques have been legitimate, but other times not (unsurprisingly, Sean Hannity’s coverage on Fox News has come under considerable scrutiny).
A couple of days ago, the Council on Foreign Relations published an article by Kimberly J. Morgan, “Doomed from the Start”, which I thought was rather interesting. Morgan pays attention to the general sense that the rollout was not a success. The summary from the email newsletter, which doesn’t appear in the article itself, was pretty good:
“Obamacare is a typically American concoction: a complicated program jerry-rigged to appeal to people with little faith in government. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy — a messy government system that only fuels deeper cynicism about the welfare state.”
From the article, and a little longer:
“But the fact that the White House is having trouble implementing Obamacare also should not come as a particular surprise. It is not that the Obama administration is especially incompetent. Rather, the program it is charged with executing is a complex public-private hybrid that has no real precedent elsewhere in the world. The blend is purely American: Policymakers in the United States have a history of jerry-rigging complicated programs of this sort precisely because they have little faith in government. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy that fuels only deeper public cynicism about the welfare state.”
It’s an interesting, short piece, which discusses the unique attributes of the program, the global context, and the complexity of the law, and the “labyrinthine quality of U.S. social policy”. If you’re interested, I’d recommend you go read it.
“The larger irony here is that administering a complex public-private health-care system often requires more government, not less. Yet the very same impulse that created this system also impairs the government agencies that could effectively oversee it. The programs, as a result, are messy and confusing. It should be no surprise that trust in government is so low. Obamacare’s early difficulties may provide an easy target for politicians, but those politicians have only to look into the mirror to see who bears responsibility.”