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 March 05, 2015 08:35 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report today on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. The department will also issue its revised report on fourth-quarter productivity. And the Commerce Department will report on U.S. factory orders for January. Also today, Freddie Mac will release average mortgage rates.

The jobs market has been steadily improving in recent months.

And a private survey Wednesday showed that U.S. businesses added more than 200,000 jobs in February for the 13th straight month. It was the latest sign that strong hiring should boost the economy this year.

Payroll processor ADP says companies added 212,000 jobs last month, a solid gain, though down from 250,000 in the previous month. January's figure was revised up from 213,000. The figures come just before tomorrow's government report on the labor market, which economists forecast will show an increase of 240,000 jobs, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING (AP) -- China is setting a lower economic growth target for this year and is promising to open more industries to foreign investors as it tries to make its slowing, state-dominated economy more productive.

In a report to the National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang (lee kuh-TYAHNG') says the growth target of about 7 percent, down from last year's 7.5 percent, is in line with efforts to create a "moderately prosperous society." Actual economic growth last year was 7.4 percent, the lowest since 1990.

The ruling Communist Party is in the midst of a marathon effort to guide the world's second-largest economy to slower but more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption and services. It is trying to replace a worn-out model driven by trade and investment in construction and heavy industry that has left China's air and water badly polluted.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON-PHARMACYCLICS

Report: J&J close to deal to buy partner Pharmacyclics

UNDATED (AP) -- Health care giant Johnson & Johnson reportedly is close to buying biopharmaceutical company Pharmacyclics, its longtime partner in developing the blood cancer treatment Imbruvica.

London's Financial Times reports "people familiar with the matter" say Johnson & Johnson's anticipated offer would value Pharmacyclics of Sunnyvale, California, above its current $17 billion market capitalization. Those sources said a deal could be announced within days but might unravel.

J&J spokeswoman Amy Meyer declined to comment.

Pharmacyclics shares surged on the rumor, jumping 6.3 percent in regular trading and another 3 percent after hours to $237.48.

Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, usually makes mid-sized acquisitions worth several billion dollars, but paid $21.3 billion in 2011 for Synthes, a Swiss maker of orthopedic surgical equipment. J&J has annual revenue of $74 billion.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL-DATA BREACH

NEW YORK (AP) -- Upscale hotel chain Mandarin Oriental says it is investigating a potential credit card breach at its hotels.

"Unfortunately incidents of this nature are increasingly becoming an industrywide concern," the company said in an emailed statement. Mandarin Oriental said it is coordinating with credit card agencies and forensic specialists. The company didn't disclose how many hotels were affected nor how many customers reported fraudulent charges on their credit cards.

Mandarin Oriental operates hotels across the world including Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Prague, Boston, Las Vegas, Macau and Barcelona.

The breach was first reported by cybersecurity news website KrebsOnSecurity.

ACTIVISION-VIVENDI

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- A Delaware judge is eyeing approval of a $275 million settlement in a shareholder lawsuit alleging that videogame maker Activision Blizzard was shortchanged in a $6 billion buyback of shares from French media conglomerate Vivendi SA in 2013.

Following a hearing Wednesday, the judge said he viewed the settlement favorably, and that the defendants were providing reasonable value to settle the claims against them.

An attorney for the lead plaintiff told the judge that the $275 million settlement is the largest ever in a derivative suit, in which shareholders sue on behalf of a company.

The lawsuit alleged that Activision executives and directors, working with Vivendi, breached their fiduciary duties by entering into a deal that improperly benefited CEO Bobby Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly.

EXXON MOBIL-SETTLEMENT

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists are criticizing a proposed legal settlement between Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration and Exxon Mobil over oil and chemical contamination.

The state had sought $9 billion in damages. But a person familiar with the matter says the settlement is for about $250 million. The person wasn't authorized to speak before details were released publicly and spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is planning a public hearing. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Ray Lesniak have threatened a lawsuit.

A judge found Exxon liable in 2008 for contamination in Bayonne and Linden. But there's been no ruling on damages.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. had said damages should be capped at $3 million.

REVEL SALE

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- A bankruptcy court judge says more time is needed to seek higher bids for Atlantic City's former Revel Casino Hotel.

Judge Gloria Burns delayed a decision Wednesday on the proposed $82 million sale of the shuttered gambling hall to Florida developer Glenn Straub.

She did so after Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof expressed interest in buying Revel, but for $2 million less.

Leo Pustilnikov, Shomof's partner, says he's interested in making a formal bid soon.

Burns says she's giving Revel AC and potential bidders time to work out the best possible deal for the shuttered casino.

A new hearing is set for March 12.

Two previous sales of Revel have fallen through.

The $2.4 billion casino closed in September after two years of operation, and never turned a profit.

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