From all outward appearances, the president believes he is sitting in the catbird seat today, having signed a bill last night that provides him with cover in terms of the debt ceiling and reopens the government. In truth, the bill, which funds the government through Jan. 15 and extends the debt limit till Feb. 7, only delays the next round of bickering and name calling.
What is more, now that the “negotiations” are over, the nation’s attention will refocus on the 900-pound elephant in the room named Obamacare. Apropos of the change of topic, the Associated Press reports having obtained a Sept. 5 memo informing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the anticipated target enrollment for Obamacare in the first month was 500,000. Team Obama has a lot of ground to make up if the 36,000 estimated to have signed up through Oct. 13 is any indication of what the final tally will be.
The administration’s prediction predated what AP calls “a cascade of computer problems,” but a CNN report from Oct. 9 suggests the administration was warned months in advance that there would be days like this. Reporter Brian Todd told Wolf Blitzer that he had spoken to a health care consultant named Robert Lushevsky:
He says his insurers who dealt with the administration in the months ahead of time … had contentious meetings with people form HHS and other health care officials who were in charge of this. Contentious meetings in the months before this rollout, warning them, this isn’t working. It’s not going to be smooth. Don’t do it right then. He says those warnings were ignored. They went full speed ahead and said we’ll work these problems out.
A White House narrative that the computer snafus were the result of overwhelmingly high demand has also been discredited. An analysis by Kantar US Insights indicates that traffic to Healthcare.gov has fallen off by 88% since Day 1.
But none of this bad news is deterring the administration, which is at least putting up a positive front. Sebelius was in Cincinnati on Wednesday, where she urged Americans to keep coming back to the Obamacare site if they can’t get through. “Prices don’t change and the product doesn’t run out,” she quipped.
The memo, titled “Projected Monthly Enrollment Targets for Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014,” gave a specific Oct. 31 target figure of 494,620 — and that was portrayed as a slow start. The document shared the expectation that signups would jump after Thanksgiving, projecting that enrollment would reach 3.3 million nationally by Dec. 31 and 7 million by the end of March, when enrollment closes.
At least the memo offered up a small dose of caution in its advice that rojections are constantly changing based on experience
- Traffic at Obamacare website falls off 88% since Oct. 1 rollout
- Under Obamacare worse is the new normal
- Buggy, crash-prone Obamacare site also includes option to register to vote, further gumming up works
- Obamacare website glitches were purposely baked in to deter sticker price shock
- To sign up for Obamacare, dial 1-800-F**KYO: A bridge too far
- Sticker shock: Californians suddenly discover why Republicans are shouting about Obamacare
- Obama supporter: ‘I now get why GOP is so ticked off over Obamacare’
- A reminder: Warnings about premiums going up under Obamacare were correct
- When playing for time, think big and strategic
- Sticker shock from Obamacare rates as big a snafu as sign-up glitches
- Obamacare will double my monthly premium (according to Kaiser)
- Kentucky allows dead people to sign up for Obamacare
- Models stripped down to their skivvies take to Denver streets to hawk Obamacare
- Day 1 Obamacare sign-up horror stories
- Firm sued for fraud 18 months ago is back … signing up Obamacare applicants
- How unaffordable will the Affordable Care Act be? By the numbers