The Obama administration rushes to correct a gloomy blog post by the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters emails: “The Administration has not set monthly enrollment targets. We are analyzing data about the uninsured, state plans for enrollment, and the experience of the state of Massachusetts which implemented a similar system. We continue to focus on reaching as many uninsured Americans as possible, based on experience on the ground. As it did in Massachusetts and Medicare Part D, enrollment takes time.”
Either the Health and Human Services spokeswoman is lying, or the AP imagined the memo listing enrollment targets in this story:
The Sept. 5 memo, for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, lists monthly enrollment targets for each state and Washington, D.C., through March 31, the last day of the initial open enrollment period under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
In the memo, officials estimated that 494,620 people would sign up for health insurance under the program by Oct. 31. And that was portrayed as a slow start.
“We expect enrollment in the initial months to be low,” said the memo titled “Projected Monthly Enrollment Targets for Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014.”
A big jump was expected after Thanksgiving, since Dec. 15 is the last day people can sign up so their coverage will take effect Jan. 1. Starting in the new year, the health care law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face fines. At the same time, insurance companies will be forbidden from turning away people in poor health.
The memo projected enrollment would reach 3.3 million nationally by Dec. 31.
So which is more plausible? That the AP just made up a memo full of target numbers that didn’t exist, or that the Department of Health and Human Services is now panicking and lying in order to spin negative stories?