Blogs: News & Views

The Inside Story on Obamacare

Published Online: Thursday, December 19, 2013

Health care professionals who are avidly following the ongoing story of the government health care website rollout, now entering its third month, no doubt were fascinated by the recent New York Times article, “Inside the Race to Rescue a Health Care Site, and Obama“ ( Indeed, this detailed, behind-the-scenes look at what actually happened—and what didn’t happen—during the launch of offers some very interesting reading, no matter what side of the debate you may be on.

Clearly, the frantic efforts to “fix” the health insurance exchange by the end of November were executed not only to actually fix the failing website, but also to save face for a politically embarrassing episode for the Obama administration, one that will have longer-term repercussions. As the Times article indicated, this rescue effort was aimed at saving President Obama’s credibility as well as the philosophy that the federal government can solve “big, complex social problems.” Obviously, the complexities of health care in this nation were too much of a challenge for big government to solve, and when you see what happened in the framing of the health care exchange, it’s easy to see why.

Among the myriad of problems, coordination and planning were done in a vacuum and the website was never fully tested. Terms such as “systems integrator” and “software code” became part of Washington, DC’s vocabulary as people realized that the technology behind the exchange, the so-called “back end,” was not fully built, let alone tested. If someone in the real world of business worked on a website launch in this manner, heads would roll. But big government gets a pass, with hearings launched and new experts brought in to fix the multitude of problems, estimated to be close to 800 in number.

Like the famous Nancy Pelosi thought process, “You won’t know what’s in the health reform bill until it is passed,” the government website has a similar mantra. As Aetna Chief Executive Mark Bertolini noted on CNBC, “There’s so much wrong, you just don’t know what’s broken until you get a lot more of it fixed.” With insurance companies investing in additional workers and tens of millions of dollars to prepare for this new health care marketplace, the lack of transparency in what is going on in these early days does not predict a smooth ride down the road. In fact, some pundits are already predicting a sharp rise in the cost of premiums in 2015 as the ratio of healthy and unhealthy people becomes unbalanced.

So, what’s the newest solution for fixing the website? According to the Times article, technicians were tasked to set up a “waiting room” to accommodate consumers as they log on to sign up for a health plan. While admitting that significant challenges still remain, people now will have the illusion that something is working. Sounds like Washington, DC, all over again.

Thank you for reading!
Mike Hennessy
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer
Mike Hennessy, Chairman and CEO
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Mike Hennessy shares his views and perspectives on issues that affect pharmacists.
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ABOUT MIKE HENNESSY, President, Chairman, CEO

Mike Hennessy is President, Chairman, and CEO of MJH & Associates and Intellisphere, LLC, publisher of influential journals in health care, finance, and politics, including Pharmacy Times. Pharmacy Times is a clinically based, monthly journal providing practical information pharmacists can use in their everyday practice. Each issue contains articles and features covering medication errors, drug interactions, patient education, pharmacy technology, disease state management watches, patient counseling, product news, pharmacy law, and specialty pharmacy. Pharmacy Times is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of free continuing pharmacy education.

As a businessman, entrepreneur, and publisher of magazines, iPad editions, projects, and Web sites that focus on the needs of health care professionals, Hennessy is intimately familiar with the challenges these professionals face every day in today's competitive practice environment. News & Views: Hennessy's Highlights dissects health care policy issues, the impact of pharmacy on national health care, and the critical issues that concern pharmacists as the new health care reform legislation is debated.

As publisher of Pharmacy Times, Mr. Hennessy launched the Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards in partnership with Parata Systems, to recognize the achievements of pharmacists in health care. "As the leader in pharmacy publishing, Pharmacy Times is shining a light on the critical role of the pharmacist in today's health care world and providing invaluable insight into the profession," Mike Hennessy, chairman, chief executive officer, and president said. "We are proud to recognize individual pharmacists in this 2nd annual awards program."

Pharmacy Times is published by Intellisphere, LLC, a leading provider of health care publishing, research, information, and education. Operating within both traditional and digital media channels, Intellisphere serves the needs of health care professionals through an extensive suite of magazines, journals, e-mail databases, Web sites, events and personal meetings. Intellisphere reaches more than half a million health care professionals through Pharmacy Times, Specialty Pharmacy Times, The American Journal of Managed Care, The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, MDNG,, Oncology & Biotech News, Oncology Net Guide, Contemporary Oncology, and Oncology Net Guide: Nurses' Edition.
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