It has now been a year since we published Steve Brill’s groundbreaking exploration of hospital pricing, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” which was our most read story of 2013. Since then, Steve has continued to track the changing health care landscape, particularly as President Obama’s Affordable Care Act went online. Even before the official launch of Obamacare, Steve was struck by how disorganized the process seemed and how focused the White House was on making sure people would enroll–as opposed to making sure they could.
In October, after HealthCare.gov crashed and the policy went on life support, Steve set out to learn what was being done to save it and whether it could be salvaged at all. He interviewed the principal players, toured the command center and came to know the website’s unlikely team of tech titans, engineers and coders–many of whom, he was surprised to discover, were the same people who had left their Silicon Valley jobs to build Obama’s 2012 campaign databases and outreach machinery. Recalled to duty, this time to fix the profoundly broken technology on which the President’s signature achievement depended, many of them dropped what they were doing, moved into Washington-area hotels and worked around the clock, through weekends and holidays, to get the systems up and running smoothly. Apart from their technical prowess, Steve was struck–and often stymied–by their modesty. “The hardest part of the reporting,” he says, “was getting them to tell me what they had personally done, because none wanted to take personal credit.” By the time they had finished, HealthCare.gov was no longer making headlines every day–because it was finally working. Now, as Brill argues, the onus is back on the President to prove that the policy is working as well.
Nancy Gibbs, MANAGING EDITOR
BEHIND THE SCENES
While photographing the protests in Kiev for “This Isn’t Over” (page 42), Yuri Kozyrev (above right, with writer Simon Shuster) noticed stark parallels with another uprising he captured: Cairo’s in 2011. “Both groups were incredibly well trained,” he recalls. But in Kiev, there was none of the looting that swept through Cairo during the Arab Spring, and when revolutionaries in Ukraine seized the abandoned mansion of their ousted President, “they even kept people from trampling the lawns.” Both revolts eventually used guns against police, but neither of them made a show of their arsenals, likely because they didn’t want to scare participating students. And during both Cairo and Kiev, the lesson to leaders was clear: the use of force will only spark a cycle of violence. In Egypt, for years, it has been impossible to stop. Ukraine will have to wait and see.
NOW ON THE IPHONE
TIME’s just-launched mobile app, designed exclusively for the iPhone and available on iTunes, is full of bonus features in addition to the weekly magazine. Among them: 10 audio article versions and TIME covers from the archives.
NOW ON LIGHTBOX
In anticipation of the Oscars on March 2, TIME’s deputy photo editor, Paul Moakley, has been interviewing nominated cinematographers. His first subject: Sean Bobbitt, director of photography on 12 Years a Slave. “One of the pleasures of working with director Steve McQueen [above left] is that there are not shot lists and storyboards,” he told TIME of the filming experience. “The idea is to find the space and then to light it in such a way that the actors can go wherever they like, and then to respond to what the actors have done.”
This appears in the March 10, 2014 issue of TIME.