Sports metaphors and the Obamacare roll-out

Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013
Sports metaphors and the Obamacare roll-out story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As discontent in the Democratic party grows over the implementation of Obamacare, government officials say they’re bringing in experts from silicon valley to help find a way out of the fiasco that signing up has become.

Tonight, in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe says the administration’s handling of President Obama’s signature legislation is a “how-to” lesson in destroying credibility in record time.

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I’m not a big fan of sports analogies. But sometimes they work.

The late Casey Stengel comes to mind after watching President Obama and his team back-pedal, step up to the plate to accept responsibility, and then point the finger of blame at somebody else.

The administration has had three-and-a-half years to get things ready for this day—for this roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.

Forty-two months to have developed and tested and retested the billion-dollar, new technology that would allow millions of people to effortlessly sign on to, in so many cases, get the the kind of healthcare they’ve never had before.

More than 15,000 days to develop a pretty good sense of how much it would cost to work with insurance companies to gauge whether it would be cheaper or more expensive; to explain  in authoritative detail after detail to a country still divided over the issue.

If Casey Stengel were able to comment today, I suspect it would be similar to what he said about his inept New York Mets in 1968.

“Been in this game a hundred years, “ he said. “But I see new ways to lose ‘em I never knew existed before.”

Where in the world were these people in our nation’s capitol? You know, if there had been only six months to lay all the groundwork, we could say, “well, they did the best they could in the time allowed.”

I know the issue became red meat for conservatives. I know it went to the Supreme Court before becoming the law of the land. I know that had to be distracting.

But good grief! If we have the technology to bug the phone of the Chancellor of Germany, listen in to conversation all over Brazil and in France and who knows where else, you’re telling me we can’t build an Obamacare web site that works?! That works from the beginning?

Instead, look at what we have. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointing her finger at the Canadian company who built the system.

Yeah, Canadian.

And that company pointing back at the administration and other companies who helped out.

Sebelius telling us no one—simply no one—and certainly not the President, knew before October 1st this thing would blow up as it did.

Only now is our government turning for advice to the world leaders in computer technology from Silicon Valley.

Today, we learn that we get an extra 45 days to sign up before facing a penalty. But not, we are told, because of the computer “glitch.” Of course not. It's because the public was confused about sign up dates. Really?

Meantime, insurance company insiders are telling CNN that they knew a long time ago that this thing was going to fall like a tent in a hurricane.

Also, today we learned that Sebelius and company are going to start a grassroots effort to boost enrollment in the system so many have already been turned away from.

Where was that effort six months—a year—ago? Honestly!

I believe our country is in desperate need of a well-run, cost-efficient, national healthcare system. But if what we’ve seen so far is any indication...Obamacare will be none of those things.

When he was with the Yankees, Casey Stengel sent a guy down to the minors because he was striking out too much. “Mister,” Stengel told a reporter, “that boy couldn’t hit the ground if he fell out an airplane.”

I think the same can be said about some key people in Washington. Its time to stop the strike outs and get some people on the team who can hit home runs. We’re obviously overdue.

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

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Last Update on August 31, 2015 17:08 GMT

ANDROID SMARTWATCHES-IPHONE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Google is introducing an application that will connect Android smartwatches with Apple's iPhone, escalating the rivals' battle to strap their technology on people's wrists.

The move thrusts Google on to Apple's turf in an attempt to boost the lackluster sales of watches running on its Android Wear software. The program uniting the devices running on different operating systems is being released Monday in Apple's app store.

Until now, Android watches only worked with smartphones powered by Android software, just as the Apple Watch is designed to be tethered exclusively to the iPhone.

Google's new app, though, will enable the latest Android watches to link with the iPhone so people can quickly glance at their wrists for directions, fitness information and notifications about events, emails and Facebook updates.

EPIX-HULU IN-NETFLIX OUT

UNDATED (AP) -- The cable network Epix and streaming service Hulu have agreed to a multiyear, digital subscription video on demand deal, while rival Netflix has decided not to renew with Epix.

The Hulu-Epix deal starts Oct. 1 and will bring new releases from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount to Hulu subscribers, the companies announced late Sunday.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Hulu said it involves new titles, library films and Epix original programming.

Meanwhile, Netflix said in a Sunday blog post that that many of the movies it received through its Epix agreement also were widely available at the same time through other subscription platforms. Netflix said it intends to improve its customer offerings through original films and licensing deals with movie studios.

BLUE BELL

BRENHAM, Texas (AP) -- Blue Bell ice cream is back.

Blue Bell Creameries has resumed selling its products in select locations Monday, four months after the Texas-based retailer halted sales due to listeria contamination.

Blue Bell ice cream is now available at stores in the Houston and Austin areas, including in the company's hometown of Brenham, plus parts of Alabama.

The company voluntarily recalled its products in April after they were linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.

Production plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama then underwent an extensive cleaning and decontamination, under the regulatory oversight of health officials.

Listeria bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

GERMANY-GREECE-BAILOUT

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making clear she expects Greece to continue complying with its obligations to creditors after upcoming elections, and says she doesn't see any possibility of reducing interest rates on its bailout loans.

Merkel said Monday, however, that while interest rates are already very low there is "a certain room for maneuver" on when Greece must pay back debts and the level of those payments. She says she's "relatively optimistic" of finding a solution that satisfies the International Monetary Fund's demand for debt relief.

Greece is holding elections Sept. 20 after Alexis Tsipras stepped down as prime minister, seeking a stronger mandate to implement austerity measures creditors demanded in return for a new bailout.

Merkel said in Berlin: "I assume that Greece will comply with its commitments."

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Official figures show inflation in the 19-nation eurozone was stable in August at an annual rate of 0.2 percent.

The European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, says Monday that a large drop in energy prices made up for increases in the costs of food, alcohol and tobacco, services and industrial goods.

The inflation figures remains far below the European Central Bank's aim for a 2 percent annual rate. The central bank is pumping 60 billion euros ($68 billion) a month of new money into the financial system of the eurozone to boost inflation.

A prolonged period of low inflation or, worse, an outright drop in consumer prices, can hurt an economy by encouraging consumers to delay purchases.

GERMANY-UN-CLIMATE TALKS

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- U.N. climate talks began anew Monday in Germany, three months before world governments are supposed to adopt a landmark deal to fight global warming.

The climate pact envisioned for Paris in December will be a crucial test for the diplomatic process, which failed to deliver a strong deal six years ago in Copenhagen.

U.N. officials note things look much brighter this time around because most major economies have already presented national plans to limit their emissions of climate-warming gases after 2020, when the new deal is meant to take effect.

Still, much work remains on how to ensure that countries live up to their pledges and how to divide the responsibilities of climate action among countries in different stages of development.

EGYPT-ECONOMY

CAIRO (AP) -- Experts say the discovery of a huge natural gas field off the Egyptian coast is a major boon for the country that will help alleviate energy shortages and boost the economy.

They say that the new "supergiant" offshore field revealed a day earlier by Italy's Eni SpA and billed as the "largest-ever" found in the Mediterranean Sea could alleviate the Arab world's most populous nation's need for gas imports.

Egypt is making a gradual economic recovery from the years of chaos since a 2011 uprising toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Rolling power cuts have been a regular feature of life as the country has been ruled by the military, an Islamist president and then a military-backed government.

This summer, however, Cairo has been largely spared the power cuts.

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