False Equivalence Right

Albrecht Durer, Weeping Angel Boy

Albrecht Durer, Weeping Angel Boy

I cannot begin to tell you all how tired I am of hearing about Healthcare.gov and all of the glitches. Yes, I get it, really I do. It is hinky, the roll out was not seamless and smooth, it is well let’s just say it is imperfect.

It is in fact an ugly baby.

What Healthcare.gov is not; it is not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Healthcare.gov is simply a delivery vehicle, one of many and one that is currently not performing as it should but it is not the law itself. Democrats on the Hell  Hill, pundits in the media and all of us truly need to separate the two and discuss them as distinct and not at all equal. It is contingent upon those of us who support the idea of access to affordable Health Insurance for all citizens that we not confuse or confabulate the issues surrounding the ACA (aka: Obamacare) and the rollout of one hinky delivery system, Healthcare.gov.

All this being said, let’s first talk about some of the idiotic conspiracy theories first. Don’t think they exist? You don’t read the Right Wing My Head is Exploding with all my f’ng insider knowledge, do you? So, here are a few of my recent favorites, those Right Wing walks resulting in False Equivalency that eventually makes their way into the mainstream because everyone is afraid to call Bullshit:

  • No bid contract awarded to CGI, the Canadian corporation, prime contractor.
    • Since 2007 CGI has had an ID/IQ designation with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The designation means Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity and covers contracts from $1K to $4B. CGI is one of 16 companies granted this designation prior to President Obama’s first term. These designations are consistent throughout the government, whether they are appropriate or not is a different issue. (sourced from various sites including DHHS). It is possible, though not probable some work orders for Healthcare.gov were awarded under this designation. It should be noted however, CGI was not the only vendor working on the Healthcare.gov integrated solution.
    • Further, on various sites (no confirmation yet) the RFP (Request for Proposal) was sent to several qualified vendors. DHHS received four (4) responses and of these, only CGI’s response was reviewed and accepted (again no confirmation of the veracity of this statement). There is only one reason why other responses would have been rejected without review; the response did not meet the stated requirements of the RFP.
  • Senior Vice President of CGI Federal, Toni Towne-Whitley was a Princeton classmate, class of ’85 of First Lady Michelle Obama and is a member of the Princeton Black Alumni.
    • Yes, both of these statements are true on their surface. Careful examination of some facts would find though, it is unlikely they are friends or ever met each other at school. They traveled in different circles, attended different schools at Princeton with different educational goals and attainments. Simply attending the same very large school does not instantly mean you know each other. By the way, Daily Caller, not every Black Person in the country knows every other Black Person in the country.
  • Upon award of the contract to CGI the President of CGI Group, George Schindler donated to the President’s reelection campaign.
    • Yes, in fact he did, $1,000; big money there. Mr. Schindler also donated to Mitt Romney and previously he had donated the max of $2,300 to John McCain. To make this easier though, let’s just debunk all of this and go ahead on to Open Secrets if you are interested. Follow the money, use the following criteria;
      • CGI
      • George Schindler
      • CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc. PAC
      • Toni Townes-Whitley
  • The cost of Healthcare.gov was somewhere in the neighborhood of $693M.
    • No, no it was not anywhere close to this. In fact, the awarded contract was approximately $70M originally, when you factor in all the changes required due to recalcitrant GOP Governors who refused to implement their own state marketplaces, the final cost might be closer to $115M. The final costs are not in, however Daily Kos have done an excellent job of pulling apart the Right’s argument with facts here, including a great spreadsheet here.  I love facts!

Now, those are my favorites of the weekend. Really, how hard is it to stick with facts and stop making shite up?

healthcare-gov-affordable-care-act-website-jpg_fb_big

Can we talk for a minute about what Healthcare.gov is and what it is not? I don’t want to bore you with tech-speak; I do some of this for a living and even my eyes glaze over. I do want to talk about what Healthcare.gov is and why the idiots on the Hill should not be holding hearings over which they have not a clue.

  1. Healthcare.gov is not a simple website. The website is a frontend; it is how you and I access the system behind it.
  2. Healthcare.gov is an integrated system. This system requires tens of thousands, if not millions of lines of custom code to parse information you and I enter, including our names, address, financial status, this determines what products to show us. This is essentially “If, Then, What” lines of code based on multiple options. Then, once the products we qualify for are delivered to our screen and we have the opportunity to review and decide this same solution must send our choice(s) to external private vendors, outside of the Healthcare.gov system.
  3. Integration is not simple and it is not a one-to-one process at the federal level. For every single state that did not create their own marketplace the integration had to be created for that state. What this means, for example in Texas every single district, county, city, zip code combination had to be entered. All of the private insurance companies willing to offer plans for Texas citizens had to offer those plans to the marketplace. The State of Texas vetted those plans and made their own rules that had to be incorporated into the system.
    1. This was true of every single state. Every Red State that did not create their own Marketplace made up their own rules; rules in many cases with the sole intention to case the ACA to fail in their state, to prevent their citizens from accessing Affordable Insurance and ultimately affordable healthcare.
    2. Finally, nothing in Healthcare.gov stores your medical information, thus nothing in Healthcare.gov is in non-compliance with HIPPA. Keep in mind, one of key provisions of the ACA is the elimination of ‘pre-existing conditions’. With this provision, you and I no longer fill out extensive medical histories when applying for Health Insurance, in fact the only information we are asked is if we smoke.

If you are a Democrat, Liberal, Progressive or Left Leaning Independent please stop referring to Healthcare.gov as Obamacare or the ACA, or even a Website. It is none of these. It is just one of several delivery systems for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it isn’t the entirety of it. Could it have been done better? Yes, certainly, it could have been and I suspect all that is wrong with this particular delivery system will be corrected fairly quickly but let’s not fall into the trap the Right is laying for us, let’s not repeat their idiotic talking points as if they were gospel.

The truth is we are now going to have to watch as the GOP members on the Hill waste valuable time and money following their boogiemen down every conspiracy hole. Their insatiable appetite to find this President at fault for something, anything is horrifying, wasteful and frankly boring. The propagandizing by the Right is tiresome; that we fall into their trap repeatedly is shameful. They throw the Red Herring and we run with it.

Red Herring

Next up, what likely went wrong in developing Healthcare.gov.

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