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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

HealthCare.gov Is ‘Fixed’! Okay, Here’s the Fine Print . . .



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From the Cyber-Monday Morning Jolt:

It’s December! Break out the party hats! Obamacare is fixed! It’s a Thanksgivmikkah miracle! Throw the confetti!

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so, so much. Yes, I know. I’m the greatest.”

Little does he know that each one of those pieces of confetti is a HealthCare.gov site repair ticket.

Wait, what’s this thing about the fine print?

[Obama adviser Jeffrey] Zients also warned that peak traffic volumes during the coming weeks could eclipse the new capacity as consumers rush to sign up before a Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that begins Jan. 1. That could delay some people from completing online applications for subsidized health coverage.

Officials also acknowledged that the site may not operate smoothly for some visitors when traffic volumes are within its capabilities and said they were scrambling to repair and install functions at the crucial “back end” of the system that are needed to finalize enrollments with insurers.

Even so, officials said, the site is dramatically better than when it was launched on Oct. 1.

Well, that’s not that high a bar to clear, remember? “Just six enrollments occurred on the opening day for www.healthcare.gov, the troubled Obamacare website, according to documents released late Thursday by a House oversight committee.” Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. “We’re doing better than the catastrophic disaster we began with!”

Sunday night, many of the cheery headlines boasted, “The government says more than 50,000 people can log on to the website and more than 800,000 people will be able to shop for insurance coverage each day.”

And now, the fine print: “Government officials, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss ongoing operations, cautioned last week that they will not know if they’ve actually expanded the site’s carrying capacity to 50,000 users at once until they have that many users online in the coming days.”

Basically, they’re bragging that they think they have the site significantly improved.

The whole paying-for-the-subsidies part? Not finished yet.

Parts of the Obamacare enrollment system used to pay insurers are being pushed back from January in the latest technology delay for the president’s U.S. health-care overhaul.

The administration is setting up a temporary process to send companies the federal subsidies used to help millions of Americans buy coverage because the online system won’t be ready as planned, said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Insurers will estimate what they are owed rather than have the government calculate the bill.

A gentle reminder: More than one-third of the Obamacare open-enrollment period has passed. According to EnrollMaven.com, which tracks and adds up publicly released data about plan enrollment, enrollment is about 194,932 — roughly 2.8 percent of the 7 million threshold the administration set. We get our next batch of official numbers for the nationwide enrollment in two weeks.

When I say “we get,” I mean, “the administration will release” new numbers in two weeks. They have these numbers, and can release them at any time. They just choose not to, out of embarrassment.

But sometimes people leak:

About 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online federal exchange last month, a roughly four-fold increase from October even as a team of U.S. government and contractor programmers was fixing the troubled Affordable Care Act website, said a person familiar with program’s progress.

Do they hit a million by January? February?

Christian Schneider: “HHS’ new tactic: comparing the new Healthcare.gov to how terrible it used to be. So, basically the same ad campaign as Domino’s.”


Tags: Obamacare


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