Where in the world is Kathleen Sebelius?

Where in the world is Kathleen Sebelius?

I know they say, “You get what you pay for.” And that’s certainly true. But as this health care law is proving almost every week now, you get what you don’t plan for, too.

In this week’s installment of “Guess What’s In PPACA?,” the program’s chief executive officer, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, admits she didn’t expect how complicated implementing this law would be, according to a report from Reuters.

Let me repeat that. The person most singularly responsible for implementing Obamacare is surprised at how hard it’s been.

“The politics has been relentless and that continues,” Sebelius told students at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July, and then once an election occurred there would be a sense that, ‘This is the law of the land, let’s get on board, let’s make this work.’ And yet we will find ourselves having state-by-state political battles.”

Are you kidding me? Where has she been the last four years? You’re telling me a national public official has somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware of our increasingly divided, toxic political environment over the last two presidential elections? Never mind the dozens of heated congressional and gubernatorial battles over the last few years. Or the intense, headline-grabbing state ballot initiatives, whether over “right-to-work,” civil unions or marijuana legalization.

Has she not caught a single segment on MSNBC, Fox News, or, hell, even Comedy Central over the last half decade?

Because this even isn’t about some obscure federal law or regulation. We’re talking about the single largest, far-reaching piece of legislation to touch on the lives of more Americans in decades. This law has managed to divide this country more than the last Gulf War.

I suppose Sebelius deserves credit for being the first administration official to ’fess up to the fact that premiums will go up after the law’s full implementation, so maybe we can give up that fairy tale sooner rather than later. 

But with the exchanges set to start opening as soon as October, and with Medicaid expansion and mandates to follow soon after, we’re quickly running out of time for too many more discoveries, admissions or rule changes.

To make matters worse, it just came out last week that the administration plans a fancy marketing campaign to get the word out to the 48 million uninsured they want to reach, which will no doubt cost millions, at the very least. But you don’t need Don Draper to tell you how hard it is to market a product to a target audience that simply doesn’t want your product. Because that’s what the architects, and defenders, of this law are facing.

For any of this to have a chance, you’ve got to sign up the millions of young and healthy uninsured people who, if they’re lucky enough to have a job, still don’t want to buy what you’re selling.

“It is very difficult when people live in a state where there is a daily declaration, ‘We will not participate in the law,’ for them to figure out whether they are going to benefit,” Sebelius also said.

And that reflects the fatal flaw that underscores all of this: a clear lack of leadership,communication and planning that could very well bring this entire monolith toppling down. And at what cost?

Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Which means that no matter what the administration admits — or figures out — now, this battle’s already lost.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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