Memo to Dems and Pundits: The disastrous healthcare.com rollout is very old news.*
Democratic operatives tell me that this basic message is, broadly speaking, how Dems will respond (where appropriate) to attacks over the law. The ad says:
“Ann Kirkpatrick listens and learns. It’s why she blew the whistle on the disastrous health care website, calling it ‘stunning ineptitude,’ and worked to fix it. She fought to hold insurance companies accountable, so they can’t deny coverage for preexisting conditions, or drop coverage when you get sick. Ann Kirkpatrick. Seeing what’s wrong. Doing what’s right.”
This is exactly what Democrats should say about the law. The rollout was disastrous and unforgivable. But note how this ad seamlessly transitions from calling for the rollout problems to be fixed, to standing behind its core goal of protecting people from the sorts of abuses that characterized the old system. These really are components of the same message: we need to continue to fix health care, and going back to the way things were is unthinkable. The ad doesn’t mention “Obamacare,” but it stands up for fundamental principles it embodies that remain popular.
— Morning Plum: How Dems are fighting back on Obamacare, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, today
Sargent praises this ad. “This,” he says, “is exactly what Democrats should say about the law. The rollout was disastrous and unforgivable. But note how this ad seamlessly transitions from calling for the rollout problems to be fixed, to standing behind its core goal of protecting people from the sorts of abuses that characterized the old system.”
Really? This is exactly what Democrats should say about the law? That the website rollout was a disaster? And that one Dem. congresswoman blew the whistle on that, which is good, because otherwise we wouldn’t have known that the website didn’t work?
The website works now. And 26-year-olds with MS can now get comprehensive coverage with low co-payments, no maximum lifetime coverage limits, and no possibility that she will be denied coverage down the road, for barely more than she was paying for coverage with high co-payments, a maximum lifetime coverage limit, and the ever-present possibility of cancellation and the inability to find replacement coverage. In Texas! And almost certainly also in Arizona.
I don’t understand this claim, repeated again and again, that the law is unpopular and that therefore it doesn’t matter why the law is unpopular. The law isn’t unpopular because for the first two months of the enrollment period the website didn’t work. At least that is not the direct reason. The law is unpopular mainly because there’s been a barrage of misinformation about available plans on the exchanges–something that is in part indirectly a result of the website’s problems in October and November, in part the result of false or incomplete information from the individual-market insurance companies, and in part the result of gullible and incompetent press coverage. And because of false scapegoating by employers.
So, yes, absolutely, Dem ads should say things like, “She fought to hold insurance companies accountable, so they can’t deny coverage for preexisting conditions, or drop coverage when you get sick.” But the ads need also to say that the website is working now, and here’s what a 26-year-old MS patient has the option to buy now, thanks to the law.
No one thinks Ann Kirkpatrick or any other congressional Democrat was happy about the unusable website. Her telling people that she was unhappy about it makes her look silly. What people care about is what coverage they have access to within their budget, and that the benefits include the prohibitions of those common insurance-company practices that the ad mentions. The now-working website is a way to access these insurance policies. So why does this ad focus on the problems with the website in October and November?
*Typo-corrected from “stateness” to “staleness,” 1/17. Aaaargh.
Especially since most people will have forgotten there was a problem by the time she runs.