It didn’t need to be this way.  Politico calls it “The PR Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.”  Aptly put and one would think almost totally avoidable.  The rollout of healthcare.gov and all the fits and starts that have happened since remind me of an old jalopy of a car; sputtering along, stopping occasionally for a repair or a retrofit, and then taking off again on the highway.  I’m sure that’s not the image the Obama Administration wanted to create.  But rather than grabbing hold of the mess and really making sure that what needed to happen, happened, it seems as though each new deadline or fix is devised at the last minute. 

The latest example – extending the signup deadline by 24 hours, with 24 hours to go and then extending that for anyone who could prove they tried to sign up.  That’s not just happening nationally either.  It’s also what’s happening in any number of states, including Massachusetts, where we led the way for the rest of the nation with our Connector and then somehow managed to get mixed up in the whole mess. I’m afraid the revised deadlines are creating a great deal of confusion and clearly costing the President a slump in his approval ratings.  It’s even playing out in a deeply blue state like Maryland, where the criticism of their Exchange is being leveled by a Democrat running for Governor – Doug Gansler. 

Was there a crisis plan in place to deal with the glitches?  What’s the most disturbing thing is that the rollout has taken all the wind out of the sails of the Obama Administration in touting all the good things the Affordable Care Act will ultimately mean for people.  That’s what should matter to the public. 

And yet there are likely to be other bumps in the road along the way.  For example, when people who sign up for insurance for the first time for some of the lower cost plans—Bronze Plans — realize they have a high deductible – more than $5,000 in many cases — before coverage for other than for preventive services kicks in. 

Those who helped create the plan—like Jonathan Gruber of MIT — and who know much more about it than I do, still maintain that when all is said and done, having healthcare for millions will be the ultimate victory.  As he said: “We're transforming the way health insurance is shopped. If it takes an extra few months, it's not the end of the world. We can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.”  Okay.  Let’s hope he’s right.