By: STEVEN GOODMAN – COLUMNIST, SOPHOMORE
“Fumbled” is a word being tossed around a lot in the news lately and it has nothing to do with football.
Many headlines say Obama “fumbled” the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and there have been many problems. There were so many problems with the website that it was essentially offline, a relatively low number of people signed up and according to a Nov. 14 article on Politico, some 3.6 million Americans received insurance cancellation letters. So yes, there have been many problems, but in what world is implementing a plan to cover some 300 million people an easy, problem-free task? The ACA is not the first government program to have problems when put into practice in our nation’s history.
One of the most well-known programs in the U.S., social security, also had major problems with its startup in 1935.
Some 26 million workers were supposed to be enrolled in less than a year, many of whom had the same last name. The problem this created for those enrolling the workers was keeping track of all of their information, such as where they lived, where they worked and how much money they made. Initially, it was thought that the problem could not be solved and the Social Security Act would be impossible to put into practice. Obviously, the problem was solved, and it was solved without any of the technology we have today. This just goes to show technology may have solved one problem, but it by no means makes a rollout of a massive program any more problem-free than it was 80 years ago.
Hypothetically speaking, even if the greatest program ever created were being put into place for the entire country, there would still be problems simply because of the large-scale implementation. If engineering has taught me anything, it’s that you cannot simply take a model and build a significantly larger full-scale product with the same parameters.
This is what Obama tried to do with the ACA. It was based off of a model plan developed for Massachusetts, which has a population of around 6 million, and then it was put into effect for an entire country of 300 million, 50 times the population the model was created for.
To try and scale a model to a final product that is this much larger with little preparation is a bad idea. It takes work to put a program for 300 million people into place, to ignore this work is a bad idea and it will save time in the future if all of the parameters are scaled up beforehand.
If more time was spent on how to expand this plan, maybe there would have been fewer problems, but some would still exist. The technology we have now, such as computers and better records of U.S. citizens, makes a massive program like the Affordable Care Act only slightly easier to rollout. Anytime, and any place, that a program of this scale is going to be rolled out there will be problems. This cannot be avoided, no matter how much preparation is done. All we can do and wait out the rough times and see what problems we can and cannot solve, it just takes time.