It is a bit ironical, in a Morrisette kind of way that Republicans who are jumping up and down over the difficulties in rolling out the ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act Website seem to have completely forgotten just what happened when their own Budget Busting HealthCare Plan, the Medicare Prescription Drug Expansion, ran into more than a few roll out problems of it's own.


January 18, 2006

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who will visit Oregon and California, said yesterday that 24 million Medicare beneficiaries now have prescription coverage, compared with the 20.4 million who had been receiving drug benefits last year through state- or employer-sponsored plans. That means the new program, expected to cost $700 billion in the first 10 years, is providing drug coverage to 3.6 million new retirees.


Even as federal leaders touted the enrollment figures, state officials and health care experts continued to report widespread difficulties, especially for the poorest and sickest seniors who were forced to switch from state Medicaid programs to the new Medicare plans on Jan. 1. Nearly two dozen states have intervened, saying they will pay for medications for any low-income senior who is mistakenly rejected. The District, Maryland and Virginia have not intervened

And you know that Republicans in Congress were darned upset at all the problems and glitches with the roll-out of this new HealthCare Initiative by the Administration.

Or Not.


    REP. JOE BARTON (R-TX): “This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches. My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches. The committee will work closely with yourself and Dr. Mark McClellan at CMS to get problems noticed and solved.” [Barton Statement via Archive.org, 2/15/2006]

    REP. TIM MURPHY (R-PA): “Any time something is new, there is going to be some glitches. All of us, when our children were new, well, we knew as parents we didn’t exactly know everything we were doing and we had a foul-up or two, but we persevered and our children turned out well. No matter what one does in life, when it is something new in learning the ropes of it, it is going to take a little adjustment.” [Murphy Floor Speech via Congressional Record, 4/6/2006]

    REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R-TX): “We can’t undo the past, but certainly they can make the argument that we are having this hearing a month late and perhaps we are, but the reality is the prescription drug benefit is 40 years late and seniors who signed up for Medicare those first days back in 1965 when they were 65 years of age are now 106 years of age waiting for that prescription drug benefit, so I hope it doesn’t take us that long to get this right and I don’t believe that it will. And I do believe that fundamentally it is a good plan.” [“Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit,” 3/1/2006]

    REP. PHIL GINGREY (R-GA): “I delivered 5,200 babies, but this may be the best delivery that I have ever been a part of, Mr. Speaker, and that is delivering, as I say, on a promise made by former Congresses and other Presidents over the 45-year history of the Medicare program, which was introduced in 1965 with no prescription drug benefit. And what we have done here is add part D, the ‘D’ for ‘drug’ or, if you want, the ‘delivery’ that we have finally provided to our American seniors.” [Gingrey Floor Speech via Congressional Record, 4/6/06]

As it turns out if you were to compare the popularity of the roll-out of Medicare Part-D and the current Affordable Care Act.  The ACA is far more popular.


"A few months ago, when we were out at forums and talking to reporters and policy experts, we kept hearing over and over again comparisons to Part D," Corlette says. "The concerns about whether the federal government would be ready, whether plans would participate and will people know about it."

They did not have to dig too deep to find similarities between the two, especially when it comes to concerns about participation in the new program and the cost of premiums. To start, neither was especially popular in the months prior to their launch. Part D was even less liked: 21 percent of the public had a favorable opinion of the program in April 2005 compared to 35 percent in April 2013 for the Affordable Care Act.

Americans felt like they didn't understand Part D, either. And back in November 2005, nobody had any clue about whether costs would be affordable enough to entice seniors into the new program:
So clearly with it's low signup numbers, it's technical glitches and it's unpopularity the entire Medicare Part-D plan must have been a great huge bust, right?  Right?
Ultimately, the Bush administration fixed the law’s technical glitches, but more than half of the beneficiaries who ended up signing up for insurance didn’t do so until after the first of the year. Significantly, they signed up for coverage despite the Bush administration’s well-publicized initial glitches in extending coverage to low-income beneficiaries. Whereas only 21 percent of seniors had a favorable impression of the law and 66 percent didn’t know what was in it in April of 2005, by November of 2006, “half of the seniors polled said the program was working well or that just minor changes were needed.”
Ultimately the program isn't going to cost $700 Million over it's first ten years according to a Kaiser Foundation Analysis (PDF) and is still in operation today - as long as Paul Ryan doesn't get his granny starving hands on it.

Oh, how quickly we all forget how initial roll-outs can seem like a disaster on day one (WINDOWS 95 and ME Anyone?), but then turn into a dependable and regular part of our lives.

Yes, so quickly.


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