The road to health care reform is turning out to be rockier than the side streets in Buffalo will be once the snow melts.
Here we must drive around the battered form of economist Jonathan Gruber, an adviser to the law’s architects, who is caught on videotape saying Congress and the administration got away with putting some things in the law because “voters are stupid.” Why not just throw red meat to opponents? It would be ... smarter.
With “Grubergate” in full swing, we arrive at yet another self-dug pothole. You know those numbers that people said were so good, the ones that topped the 7 million mark of consumers enrolled in the insurance exchanges? Turns out they were not quite that good.
Bloomberg News has reported that staffers at the Department of Health and Human Services mistakenly added almost 400,000 stand-alone dental plans to the count. This essentially amounted to double counting, because many people purchased both health plans and dental plans. So the accurate number of people enrolled in the exchanges as of September was 6.97 million. Not bad, but not the 7.3 million the administration has reported.
It’s especially bad that staff from the House Republican Oversight Committee discovered the discrepancy, not HHS. That, of course, leaves opponents convinced that HHS has been caught in a deliberate attempt to inflate the numbers.
Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said the miscount was an error and called it “unacceptable.”
Well, she’s got that right. Obama’s health care reform law has enough problems without counting errors and big-mouthed economists saying stupid things about voters.
Like the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear a second case that, if decided the wrong way, could unravel the entire law. That’s a huge problem, created by the refusal of opponents to allow the Affordable Care Act to work. These self-inflicted wounds just give them more ammunition.
To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bshelly.