It's hard to imagine this.
Oregon was one of the states that decided they could go on their own, develop their health exchange program, and took around $220 million to make all of this happen. For better or worse, they figured they were capable of running this on their own.
Well.....things have reached a pretty sad moment there in Oregon. So far, no one has been able to make the automated system work.
So "Plan B" is in effect.
The Oregon guys went over to some electronics shop and bought dozens of fax machines. If you want to enter the system and get affordable healthcare.....you fill out your paper form at home, and and fax it to one of a couple dozen fax machines.
It appears in the early going of the fax-era (a week or so).....they learned that with just a couple of fax machines.....you were basically limited to what you could handle in an entire day. I would imagine after five or six PM....they probably turn the lights off and shut down the fax machines. So it appears that an entire wall of fax machines exist.
Current limit? Amazingly enough....1,500 faxes a day.
All of this comes from the TV news folks at KOIN. Based on what they can see.....the state has around 30,000 applications.
Now, I'm not much into blame or jumping onto folks. But this draws a guy into pondering.
How many of the 30,000 applications are duplicates?
How many of the 30,000 applications are bogus?
How many of the 30,000 applications are answered wrong and can't be accepted as the final product?
If this was a success by state standards....couldn't we just buy the federal government 6,500 fax machines....line them up at some bunker in Maryland.....and just have 3,000 people walking around to gather up the forms and type the answers onto some 1972 IRS server that still runs?
Yeah, I know these are stupid questions. But the fact that they were smart enough to realize it's a mess and at least create a "Plan B", is an amazing thing. They didn't sit around and talk about polls, or cast blame on some host of dimwits at the Administration. They just did the best they could.
So I come to my final observation. Two years ago, I had this guy at the Pentagon....in my division.....who suggested that the era of fax machines were coming to a close. Maybe by 2015....maybe 2016, but fax machines would end (his exact words) like the beta tapes.
Well, I think fax machines are going to be around for a while. NASA will still be using fax machines in 2200. And I hate to suggest that....but the Affordable Healthcare Act database....might be mostly updated by faxes sent by us (the consumer)....even in the year 2200.