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McDonough says that in meetings with the President prior to the launch, Obama always would end each session "by saying, 'I want to remind the team that this only works if the technology works.'" The problem, of course, was that no one in the meetings had any idea whether the technology worked, nor did the President and his chief of staff have the inclination to dig in and find out. The President may have had the right instinct when he repeatedly reminded his team about the technology. But in the end he was as aloof from the people and facts he needed to avoid this catastrophe as he was from the people who ended up fixing it.
Now that it is fixed, the real test of his legacy achievement--what should have been the test all along--will begin. The website works. Will Obamacare work?
Brill, who a year ago wrote TIME's special report "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," is writing a book about the business and politics of health care, to be published this year by Random House