In 2012 the Obama administration decided it was more important to focus on getting the politics right instead of the policy. From the Washington Post:
The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.
Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.
The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.
By politically delaying the rule-writing until after the election, the administration artificially shortened the time they had to implement the new health care law. It is possible the rollout of Healthcare.gov would still have been a disaster even if the administration hadn’t delayed things until after the election, but obviously providing less time was not helpful.
This is only the latest example of politics trumping policy on health care by the Obama White House. The entire writing of the law was about getting the political optics right with little concern about making the individual pieces work.
Instead of a simple employer mandate the political decision was made to go with a stupidly designed ‘free rider’ provision. The subsidies were structured terribly just to keep the CBO score pretty. The Cadillac tax was designed in an absurd manner so Obama could claim it was not technically a tax on employer provided insurance. Provisions that would actually have reduced health care costs were dropped in exchange for the industry promising to spend money to promote the law.
Now we are seeing the result.