Manchin has lots to do on Obamacare

The disastrous $1 billion roll-out of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be proof positive that the Obama administration is clueless.

What’s more, there’s plenty of cause for worry as universal health care coverage moves forward.

GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, posed scary questions during a hearing on Thursday.

“Will enrollment glitches become provider payment glitches? Will patients show up at their doctor’s office or hospital only to be told that they aren’t covered, or even in the system?”

Enrollment in the program has turned into an ugly mess. Want to sign up online? Good luck. The likely response: “Important: Your account couldn’t be created at this time.” You’ll be told to call 1-855-889-4325. Good luck again. The likely response: static.

Thank you, Mister President.

Tea Party conservatives led by Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee tried to warn everybody that Obamacare was not ready.

Last month, they backed a House GOP continuing budget resolution that would have funded government while imposing a one-year delay on implementation of the individual mandate. Democrats, establishment Republicans and media pundits said Cruz was nuts.

The government went into partial shutdown. The conservatives lost. The individual mandate took effect.

West Virginia Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin voted against a delay; Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito used a phony argument about debt default as she caved to the liberals.

Today, Tea Party conservatives don’t look so crazy.

The Democrats’ new game plan: Blame the website contractors for the sign-up problems, and yes, delay enforcement of the individual mandate by all means. And who better to push for delay than Joe Manchin, the senator who wanted a delay before he didn’t want a delay?

(The morning of Sept. 26, if you’ll recall, Manchin said there’s “no way I could not vote for” a postponement of the individual mandate. “Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now.”

(A few hours later, however, Democratic leaders cleared his political throat for him. He repeated his position on the mandate but added, “That being said, I do not believe that this issue should be used to shut down the government, and I will not vote to shut down the government.”

(Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., later clarified Manchin’s position for him. Schumer told the press that Manchin would be voting with Democrats and against a delay in the individual mandate.)

Manchin appeared on “The Factor” (Fox News) Wednesday night and with a straight face said that he’s working on a bill to delay individual mandate penalties for a year.

He also told an incredibly gullible Bill O’Reilly, “I came here to fix things. Affordable health care was never meant to be, if you’ve got insurance now you’re going to have to buy insurance that’s more costly and not as good. That has to be fixed.”

O’Reilly didn’t ask Mister Fix-It why he bounced from supporting the mandate delay to opposing it to now supporting it, nor did O’Reilly challenge Mister Fix-It about higher premiums or other major flaws in


He should have. A lot of fixes are needed.

Regarding premium increases, Bob Laszewski, a health policy expert, says 16 million people are getting cancellation notices from their health insurers. If they want to re-enroll, they’ll be able to, but with “pretty big rate increases.”

Health care, itself, is going to be a huge issue, also.

Dr. Bradley Allen, a pediatric heart surgeon writing in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, described Obamacare’s “destructive effect” on the delivery of health care. Doctor shortages are going to get much worse, and some doctors already are refusing to accept new patients over the age of 50.

So Mister Fix-It, aka Sen. Manchin, has his work cut out for him, and the only question is: Will he have the backbone to do the right thing this time?