Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Heath care website problems inexcusable

President Barack Obama played salesman in chief Monday as he tried to smooth over the rough start of the federal website for the new health insurance marketplaces. The president is on target when he says that in the big picture the Affordable Care Act is a great deal for Americans. But his assurances that the faulty website is "going to get fixed" were less convincing. Obama didn't offer a timeline and instead suggested that applying for coverage over the phone and in person were good options. That's not good enough, and the website has to be fixed before the problems jeopardize the success of health care reform.

By acknowledging the technical problems and explaining that a "tech surge" has been unleashed to fix them, Obama recognized the frustration millions of Americans have felt in trying to navigate www.healthcare.gov. The federal website has been a mess since it opened three weeks ago. It was supposed to be nearly as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.com. America's uninsured would go online, register, learn about their health insurance options and if they qualify for subsidies, and sign up for coverage that begins in January.

Instead, consumers have confronted locked computer screens, cryptic error messages and difficulty creating a user account that allows them to move through the rest of the site. Those who make it to health plan options often find there is no way to determine if their doctor is in a network or if a particular prescription drug is part of a plan.

Obama says the site is improving, technicians are working around the clock and the government has added people to its phone center. But the rollout mess reinforces the inaccurate claim that health care reform is too big and complex to work. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio plans to file legislation to delay the individual mandate for coverage until six months after the General Accounting Office certifies the marketplace works. He's trying to kill it, not fix it.

The Republicans really fear that the Affordable Care Act will work so well that Americans won't be willing to part with it. The volume of traffic — about 20 million unique hits — on the federal website is indicative of the pent-up demand for affordable health coverage.

Despite the disappointing start, the numbers so far are promising. About 500,000 applications have been filled out, half of those from states that built their own online marketplaces, where the rollouts have been more successful. Residents in the 34 states, including Florida, that left it to the federal government to create their insurance marketplaces are having the most trouble.

The Obama administration should have been better prepared to handle the traffic on the website. Issues are to be expected when major government benefits are introduced, but such significant problems are inexcusable when so much is riding on the success of the insurance marketplaces.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18