The Corner

The ‘No Excuse’ Administration Has a Whopper of an Excuse for Obamacare

(Part one of the interview above. See the rest here.)

President Obama told the nation there is “no excuse” for the disastrous rollout of the health-care exchanges that are central to Obamacare.

But that didn’t stop Kathleen Sebelius, his secretary of Health and Human Services in overall charge of the project, from making excuses in a CNN interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta yesterday. She claimed to Gupta that President Obama hadn’t been told of any potential problems prior to the launch of the exchanges on October 1 — a dereliction of duty anyway one defines it. 

But there was also this startling explanation of what went wrong at HHS:

“We talked about having testing going forward, and if we had an ideal situation and could have built a product and, you know, a five-year period of time, we probably would have taken five years but we didn’t have five years. And certainly, Americans who rely on health coverage didn’t have five years for us to wait. We wanted to make sure we made good on this final implementation of the law.”

Well, okay, she only had three and a half years since Obamacare became law in early 2010 to oversee the design of the exchanges and the website accompanying them. So now she tells us she needed five years. Bruce Webster, a noted IT consultant to many companies, is stunned that Sebelius thinks “that ‘we needed five years but only had two’ is somehow an excuse for this disaster. That’s like Boeing saying, ‘We know the plane crashed, but we needed four years to build it and a year to test it, but we only had two years.’ Color me boggled.”

Bureaucratic bafflegab like that was probably behind yesterday’s White House announcement that it had, as Bloomberg reported, “tapped former acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients to work with the team overseeing repairs to the Obamacare website.” Zients was named last month as the director of the National Economic Council, but his arrival there will now be delayed as he takes on his new Sisyphean task. 

It’s pretty clear that the White House has, as bureaucrats say, “minimal” confidence in Secretary Sebelius to deliver a functioning health-care exchange system. But I’m told that for now her job is safe, because firing her would prompt cries from liberals that she was the scapegoat for mistakes made by higher-ups. Such as her boss, who signed the legislation creating this mess and then failed to hire the proper people to ride herd on its implementation.

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