Healthcare.gov: Is this failure a warning of what’s to come?

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The official launch of online registration for government healthcare has been rife with disastrous glitches from the very beginning. This cataclysmic failure has spurred severe service outages across the country, and this chronically dysfunctional interface serves as foreshadowing for an epidemic of systematic organizational deficiencies. Healthcare.gov is only the first in a series of planned bureaucratic catastrophes.

Luckily, this informative overview exists to demystify the overly complex world of the medical legislation informally known as Obamacare. Being armed with the facts provided below can protect anyone during these times of economic uncertainty in which the destabilizing influence of expensive health treatments can suddenly arise.

The Internet Errors

The requirement of preemptive registration resulted in a complete system crash. The ability to input health data was also starkly limited. Security issues also seemed evident as certificates failed to show updated validations, and there was no indication of where confidential information would be stored.

Lack of Foresight and Oversight

The decision to mandate initial registration was a hastily made last-minute change that failed to consider the magnitude of public interest. This unfortunately coincided with a government shutdown, which left limited federal resources available to respond to claims of malfunctioning servers. The biggest mistake made by the Department of Health and Human Services was underestimating the massive influx of uninsured applicants.

To further complicate woes, a chief contractor behind the layout of healthcare.gov is expected to testify that additional time and money could not have salvaged the doomed enlistment effort. His official testimony will shed light on administrative laziness, and the legislative committee is expected to issue serious reprimands, but nothing will recompense the thousands of individuals deprived access to healthcare registration on the date promised to them years in advance. These problems were completely avoidable, but the team in place refused to promptly pay attention.

Proposed Solutions

The Obama Administration has conveniently remained mum on the topic of minor adjustments to the healthcare law, but Congressional Democrats have proposed implementing small delays to the overall roll-out. The dates for enforcing the individual mandate have become a focal point of discussions to modify Obamacare. Because citizens were not given feasible access to the online enrollment system, it would be unconstitutional to levy fines for their lack of registration.

The Foreboding Warning

If politicians cannot even tackle basic website programming, then they should not be trusted to manage the well-being of millions of Americans. Partisan divisions have made two factions that are fully noncoalescent, which means all future fixes will be the result of an incomplete compromise between two warring parties. Real health concerns have been forgotten by the incessant squabbling of politicians in their ivory towers. This means that every new initiative will only cause further societal strife and struggle. Members of Congress have expanded the breadth of their authority without grasping the technological realm. As a consequence, these politicians will continue overextending the limits of their power, and the public will be left to pick up the pieces.

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Obama Signals Change by Appointing Janet Yellen to Run the Federal Reserve

Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Ea...

Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons (Photo credit: International Monetary Fund)

President Barack Obama just announced that he is nominating Janet Yellen to run the Federal Reserve. The announcement heralded one of the most significant decisions in his presidency. Yellen is currently the Vice Chairwoman of the Fed, so her succession would be a natural progression. The White House struggled with the selection, and the joint press conference with Obama and Yellen capped off a contentious deliberation. Ultimately, the new nominee’s reign could signal a series of unexpected changes.

Not the First Choice

Previously, Obama has demonstrated a tendency to be extremely loyal to his inside circle. This practice of favoritism was intended to extend to the Federal Reserve. The president’s primary candidate was Lawrence Summers, who has been a close political ally. Unfortunately, members of Obama’s Democratic Party derailed Summers’ chances by demanding a liberal nominee. After being undermined by his own establishment, Obama had no choice but to pick a Democrat.

Likelihood of Confirmation

The Senate chamber has a Democratic majority, and this coalition has vocalized widespread support for Yellen. Although her initial selection required a little extra luck and patience, she appears to be on the fasttrack to confirmation. Republicans have voiced concerns about her economic philosophy, but they will be powerless to obstruct her path to leadership.

First Chairwoman

The announcement was immediately considered to be a major symbolic victory for womens’ rights across the country. Yellen will be the first woman to operate this crucial organization. This is another convenient boost for Obama’s progressive agenda, especially since his second term cabinet has been unusually lacking in female members.

First Democrat in Decades

For some incongruous reason, the last two Democratic Commanders in Chief both nominated Republicans to head the Fed. Obama reinstated Ben Bernanke, and Bill Clinton appointed Alan Greenspan before him. By finally choosing a Democrat, Obama can help his party reclaim governmental economics. As a result, Yellen will be expected to switch ideological course on a variety of monetary issues. Still, liberals hoping for a grand overhaul will be sorely disappointed.

Financial Consequences

Because she spent her tenure serving under Ben Bernanke, the transition of leadership is expected to be conducted in a seamless fashion. This means that there will not be instantaneous transformations; instead, Yellen is expected to subtly shift the direction of countless economic debates. It will be done is a slow moving manner that remains undetected by the general public. Under the radar, she is expected to facilitate mild increases in inflation to effectively combat unemployment. She also appears more inclined to regulate big banking industries. At least from the start, Yellen will only be making minor adjustments.

Pristine Qualifications

This pragmatic economist has earned doctoral honors from Yale, and she was a professor at Harvard. She had successful experiences operating the Fed in California, and her tenure witnessed a substantial economic turnaround for the region. Now, she has navigated a tenuous stimulus recovery for the entire nation. She will only expand these efforts when she ascends to the top.

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PRISM: Did the NSA kill privacy?

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Revelations have been continuing to emerge regarding widespread surveillance tactics being internationally deployed by the United States government. PRISM is the codename of the project, which was implemented by the Protect America Act of 2007 that President George W. Bush signed. Their data collection activities remained obscured for years until a contractor employed by the National Security Agency leaked internal documents regarding the invasive system to the public.

The Scope of Surveillance

Because the intrusive monitoring is being conducted under a shroud of secrecy, it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of governmental spying. Federal agents have direct access to any online conversations conducted between Americans and international locations. These authorities have permission to conduct individual surveillance operations on any person for up to seven days before they need to acquire an official warrant. This scenario indicates that the guise of personal privacy has expired.

Logistics Versus Application

The details that have been released about the program illustrate serious setbacks for privacy activists. Fortunately, the public population vastly outnumbers the amount of authorities with access to these surveillance capabilities. Statistically, this means that that are far too many people to be personally tracked. In all likelihood, most people have not been targeted for individual monitoring; however, the story creates an appearance of governmental omnipresence that instills a need for self-censorship. The exposé about wiretapping operations simply confirms the common knowledge that the expression of incendiary rhetoric is dangerous in any arena. It would be naïve to believe that records of online activities were not being stored before the government had access to them. The permanent imprints of internet use were always available; therefore, it was only a matter of time before the legal authorities started accessing the material.

Unequal Privacy

Technically, the surveillance measures have institutionalized extreme privacy for the secret courts that have legalized extensive wiretaps. The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court operates in a completely classified fashion. They issue rulings that have fundamental impacts on American democracy, but they only conduct closed hearings. Additionally, they issue secret rulings that form the basis of laws that citizens do not know about. The court is comprised of heavily partisan members. This is based on the fact they are all appointed by John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Only one appointee was not a Republican, but the FISA Court is so concealed from the general public that conflicts of interest cannot be thoroughly vetted. These judges are privy to unfettered secrecy while they simultaneously deny the public of rights to their own privacy.

Public Backlash

Privacy still exists, but it has been neglected in favor of flashier technologies that are not secure. Fortunately, people have started returning to conventional methods of communication, which cannot be easily traced. Several organizations are developing secure ways to conduct discrete transactions online, and physical cash may now avoid its inevitable obsolescence. Ultimately, these startling announcements about governmental eavesdropping are generating a resurgence of non-digital media to regain privacy in all interactions.

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John Kerry’s Wife Hospitalized: Can You Afford Health Insurance?

Secret message from Theresa Heinz Kerry

Secret message from Theresa Heinz Kerry (Photo credit: Mike Monteiro)

Even as a growing number of analysts are questioning the details of Obamacare, the sudden hospitalization of Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of former senator and current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, provides additional fodder to the ongoing healthcare debate.

Heinz, who is 74 years old, is the heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune. She is the widow of former Senator John Heinz, who was killed in 1991 in an aviation accident. Her marriage to Kerry in 1995 occurred when he was the senator from Massachusetts. Heinz was hospitalized on Sunday and is reported to be in critical condition after being flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Heinz was treated for breast cancer in December 2009 and went through two operations for lumpectomies. It is not known what specific health issues resulted in the current hospitalization. However, sources indicated that there was concern over the return of the cancer.

Regardless of the source of the current illness, it is taken for granted that Heinz will receive the very best of medical care, with cost being of no concern to treatments pursued. In the earlier process of treating her cancer, numerous doctors at the nation’s finest medical facilities were consulted. The issue of Heinz not having to worry about the costs of her care is the central theme of many who criticize our nation’s health care system.

For the millions of Americans who live daily without health insurance or any form of coverage, there is a constant concern over how they would deal with a medical emergency. These individuals know that they are one accident or serious illness away from devastating financial hardship. In fact, the single biggest reason for bankruptcy in the U.S. today is medical bills. According to the latest studies, the average hospital stay billed out at $15, 700, with an average daily cost of nearly $4,000.

These costs are onerous because so many people today find health insurance increasingly unaffordable. While the political debate over the current healthcare reform continues, there is one simple fact. That reality is that the annual cost of private health insurance, already out of the reach of many, has risen by as much as 50 percent in the last two years. Many plans for a family of four are now over $15,000 and it is predicted that a bronze plan under the implemented Obamacare will exceed $20,000 for that same family.

All of this brings us back to the hospitalization of Heinz. The reality we live in today means that many people diagnosed with cancer or other similar diseases have little hope of receiving the treatment or care that the wealthy can afford. Even with quality health care insurance, the co-pays and other costs create burdens that many cannot carry.

There are no simple or ready solutions to this situation. The morality of one patient dying because chemotherapy is too expensive while one with a large bank account survives is an issue that will see intensified debate in the coming months and years. Regardless of what caused the current hospitalization, Heinz is one of the lucky ones who will have superb medical care without financial considerations.

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