To overhaul and drastically change a major industry that accounts for one sixth of our economy is more than aggressive. It is revolutionary. There are 31 million Americans who do not have insurance. So, a need to change was quite obvious but how you do it remains a mystery. Yes, the attempt is being made but so far it is a comedy (or tragedy) of errors. Nancy Pelosi said, "We must first pass the bill then we can read it and find what it is all about." We followed that logic and have gotten ourselves into a mess with historical proportions. Obamacare is mired in confusion and the Department of Health and Human Services is truly going in circles at 100 miles per hour.
It is just too big. Insurance is an industry made up of many corporations with governance over their brand and delivery system. There is no way one entity can manage all of this but, for some reason, our government feels it can do it. No government can run a business and especially not a giant industry. The many thousands of pages written to implement this law remind me of a road map filled with many streets crossing each other. As the mistakes are being rolled out, excuses, accusations, spin and sometimes downright lies are being applied by those in charge of implementing this law. History will show that this is perhaps one of the biggest blunders ever by this great nation.
An important piece of this operation is to be the website, www.healthcare.gov. HHS decided to give a no bid contract to a Canadian company by the name of CGI for the construction of the site. CGI had just been fired by the province of Ontario for inferior work and this isn’t the only government to have trouble with this company. Predictably, it was a nightmare. My sons could have put this website together far better than this scandalous company. Finally, amid all of the press exposing all of the mistakes being made by this contractor, HHS decided to cut their losses (approximately $100 million) and replace CGI. Did they go to Google, IBM, CSC, etc. for competitive proposals? No, they went the way of another no bid contract to the tune of $91 million given to Accenture. This company was once known as Arthur Anderson but they changed to Accenture after their involvement with the infamous Enron scandal.
Accenture has a reputation that is not too illustrious. Chances are not much improvement is going to be made. The headquarters of this company is Ireland – yes, another foreign firm. Why are they in Ireland? Ireland is tax free and has become a haven for businesses trying to avoid America’s tax system. It’s like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, etc. What really troubles me about the website is who is helping build it. It has been confirmed that programmers from the nation of Belarus are involved in the construction of this site. Belarus is known for one thing. They have the most vicious Internet hackers in the world located there. My Lord, what are we getting into? The "fox" is working in the "hen house". The website is already a disaster and it looks like it is going further south real fast.
The program is based on a "bet". It assumes that young people under 30 years will heavily populate the enrollment. That way these healthy enrollees will have little claims and could offset the cost of older persons with illness history and those with pre-existing conditions. It is not working that way – so far, 50% of the enrollees are over the age of 40. Thus, the cost estimates are terribly miscalculated and this program is headed for bankruptcy. Probably, the participating insurance companies will need a government bailout to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
This program is just out of control. There are too many variables and the management skill sets needed to pull this thing off are just not there. The law is being amended in an unconstitutional manner. Changes are to be made with Congress’ approval and they are not. In fact, there have been 27 delays as we roll the program out. Various groups are being waived and that is against the written law. It’s helter skelter.
The Congressional Budget Office has issued its comprehensive report about this Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. This nation will lose 2.3 million jobs over the next few years as a result of the program. Furthermore, 30 million Americans will remain uninsured. Wasn’t the goal of this monster to ensure the uninsured? My people this is spelling FAILURE. Certainly, it is a great concept. The major problem is we have the wrong players in this game. Save our money, pull the plug and let’s return to our insurance system.
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.