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In our opinion: Obamacare's disastrous rollout overshadowed by budget dispute

Published: Monday, Oct. 14 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama meets with small business owners about the government shutdown and debt ceiling, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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House Republicans have said they would be willing to end the government shutdown if President Obama would agree to delay implementing the Affordable Care Act for another year. The president has refused to negotiate on that issue, insisting that implementation of Obamacare go forward without delay.

The problem is that reality doesn't seem to be cooperating with the president's agenda.

It's impossible to deny that the online launch of the president's health insurance marketplaces has been nothing short of disastrous. A recent poll shows that three-quarters of those who tried to enroll in the exchanges encountered problems in the process. A solid majority of those polled believed the rollout of the exchanges has gone poorly, with only 7 percent saying the rollout went extremely well or very well.

Those are pretty discouraging numbers.

Even those who support the Affordable Care Act have been critical of how this administration handled its implementation. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius received an earful from John Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, when she made an appearance to tout the plan's virtue. Stewart, who has typically been friendly to the president and critical of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, grilled the HHS Secretary about why the Obama administration was willing to postpone the individual mandate for businesses but not for individuals. Sebelius dodged the question over and over again, failing to provide any satisfying answer. Whether one supports the particulars of the law or not, it's highly disconcerting to discover that those who are in charge of this law are incapable of adequately defending it.

Given that the Affordable Care Act has been touted as the president's signature accomplishment, it is interesting to note how the rollout, which has been in the works for the better part of three years, seems to have caught the administration completely by surprise.

"If they weren't fully ready, they should accept the advice that a lot of Republicans are giving them," said CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Delay it another year, get it ready, and make sure it works."

Good advice.

Obamacare's troubling rollout has been overshadowed by the partial government shutdown — something critics warned Republicans would happen. The budget impasse has diverted attention at a time when Americans ought to be asking tough questions of the administration. Given that uninsured Americans who do not either find insurance or enroll for Obamacare will soon be fined, the administration needs to fix these problems with all haste.

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