HealthCare.gov helped by Obama's deadline

President Barack Obama grabs a pen to sign President Barack Obama grabs a pen to sign a series of bills in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC. (Nov. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: EPA

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

Deadlines are tough. Just ask President Barack Obama. He promised the Obamacare website would be up and running by the end of November and, wouldn't you know it, the end of November came.

The results aren't perfect. Deadline projects seldom are. There's never enough time, talent or information for perfection. HealthCare.gov is still no Amazon.com.

But the federal health-insurance portal is vastly more welcoming than it was a month ago, and a huge part of the reason is this: The people trying to fix it had a loud and firm deadline.

"Much improved . . . the vast majority . . . 80 percent": They knew there was a narrow limit to how much wiggle room they'd get at the end.

You think it's an accident that deadline starts with "dead?" Without a deadline to focus their efforts, the Obamacare programmers would still be adjusting their Aeron chairs.

It's taken me years to understand this, but even I see it now: Deadlines aren't my enemy. They are my friend. Deadlines are what let me stop writing and go to dinner. Without a deadline, I would still be typing now instead of lounging on the couch in my undershorts reading the Sunday paper.

Thankfully, I too had a deadline.


SHOPPING DAZE

1. Cyber Monday

2. One-day-shipping Tuesday

3. Stupid-thing-won't-work Wednesday

4. Send-it-back Thursday

5. Where's-my-refund Friday


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Why did Forbes hike the value of the NY Islanders to $195 million from $155 million in just two years? Gee, did something happen with LI's NHL franchise in the past two years? . . . How did LI end up with New York State's first case of the dengue virus? However we got it, happy to hear the Babylon patient survived the ferocious fever . . . Can Beth Myers' Politico.com quote possibly bode well for Hofstra's future as a presidential debate host: "We were all sort of unhappy to be in Hempstead, N.Y. in October"? What exactly did the GOP debate coach mean by that little crack? . . . Besides complaining, is there anything Nassau and Suffolk school superintendents can actually do to kill the state's $1 billion Gap Elimination Adjustment? I said BESIDES complaining . . . Give Long Beach a big gold star for creative tactics in the holiday shop-here wars -- Frantic cash mobs! Crazy surfing Santas! So how many shoppers will now skip the malls for downtown? . . . Did I miss a key fact here: 45 million Americans traveled this holiday weekend -- every single one of them on the LIE? . . . Are Michael Goldstein and his LI-based World Kidney Network fine humanitarians or heartless scam artists? Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman votes "scam artist." . . . Supervisor John Riordan wants to up North Hempstead board members' pay by 37.5 percent? Think lower-ranking town employees might notice? . . . How was the Glen Cove High School Select Chorale selected to perform Dec. 13 at the White House? Could it be something as simple as "those kids can really sing"?


THE NEWS IN SONG: Manolo and Louis, it's all she's thinking of: Fergie's "Labels or Love," tinyurl.com/labelove

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LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN

Rockville Centre's South Side High must have had one heck of a social studies department in the late 1950s. Those teachers -- thank you, Mrs. Alston -- sure sparked something in eager young Doris Kearns. After decades away, the Pulitzer-winning presidential historian has turned her sights homeward for "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism." A long-ago field trip to Sagamore Hill might have piqued some interest too. Sunday night at 10, Goodwin talks Teddy and all the rest of it with Ray Bertolino on WHPC/90.3. Yes, life's a circle sometimes.

Email ellis@henican.com
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