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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma A Bad First Impression

December 9, 2013
Weekly Columns

It’s often been said that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. During the launch of more than two months ago, the majority of Americans experienced a terrible first impression of the Affordable Care Act and its ability to deliver what the president had promised since its passage.

Good or bad, it is incredibly difficult to change a person’s opinion or feeling on something. As noted pundit Peggy Noonan said during ABC’s This Week, “Even programs can get reputations. You can get a sense that something isn’t working.” The initial problems with the website, including its inability to handle high traffic, error messages, long wait times and reported security issues, is a perfect example of a poor first impression. Now it continues to cause many to distrust the website.

One of my constituents recently shared, “I am afraid to even use the website because my personal information might get hacked.” Another said, “Even if the site would work properly, I do not agree with Obamacare.” I’ve received many other emails and stories from people who distrust the federal government’s ability to run and manage healthcare. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans still think the law should be modified or repealed.

Beyond that, many have lost confidence in the president’s leadership and ability to tell the truth and keep his word. He notoriously promised before, during and after passage, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.” However, we’ve since realized that he should have said, “If I like your health plan, you can keep it.” This became clear when millions of individuals received cancellation letters over the weeks following the website launch.

So far, more people have lost insurance from the implementation of Obamacare than those who have gotten coverage. Even out of those who have signed up successfully, it’s highly likely that they won’t know exactly what they’re getting until more time goes by. In addition, many question whether their enrollment was received or for the right plan. The only real “winners” are those who were uninsured beforehand. Obviously, the system as crafted has no chance at success without the level of participation expected and foolishly projected by the Administration.

For example, the younger people (seen as mostly healthy and less likely to use coverage), needed for the law to supposedly work, aren’t rushing to sign up. According to a poll recently released by the Harvard Institute of Politics, 57 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds disagree with Obamacare. In addition, the majority expect lower quality care at a higher price. Director of Polling at the Institute further revealed, “We focused on 22 percent of young Americans who indicated they are without health insurance today. Less than one-third of that group says they are ‘definitely,’ ‘probably’ or ‘likely’ to enroll in some version of healthcare from one of the exchanges.”

The Administration continues to grasp at straws in order to manage and change a terrible first impression. Every turn is still marked by glitches and problems, making it difficult for Americans to find or enroll in comparable coverage and further pointing to the president’s failed leadership and broken promises.