The Campaign Spot

Obamacare: Wrecking the Health Insurance Plans of Millions to Improve the Lives of Dozens

The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

I realize I’ve been a Gloomy Gus lately — pointing out that Cuccinelli’s nearly doomed because he got outspent early, that the GOP’s shutdown strategy completely mistook Obama’s incentives, that not every non-essential government employee is a useless bureaucrat, and that the Tea Party House Republicans bet it all on their ability to get Senate Democrats and President Obama to flinch and concede, an ability that they simply didn’t have.

So to make up for the Blade Runner-Meets-Chinatown-Meets-Old Yeller tone of recent weeks, I present the all-conservative, no-RINO edition of the Morning Jolt:

No, Really, the Obamacare Insurance Exchanges are @#$%^&.

Kevin Drum, writing over at Mother Jones, a reliably liberal, pro-Obamacare publication:

I’ve been corresponding with a friend about the problems with the federal Obamacare website, and I have to admit that I’m having second thoughts about my initial reaction. Back on October 2, it looked to me like the problems were serious, but nothing all that out of the ordinary for a big software project. My conclusion: “Before long, the sites will all be working pretty well, with only the usual background rumble of small problems. By this time next month, no one will even remember that the first week was kind of rocky or that anyone was initially panicked.

The reporting we’ve seen recently about the nature of the Obamacare problems certainly suggests otherwise. The bugs seem deep and profound. So why has this turned out to be so much worse than I thought it would be?

Because you have way too much faith in the good intentions and competence of Obama administration officials. Moving along . . . 

With Obamacare, however, they weren’t allowed to slip the schedule. They had to ship on October 1. Period. And so now I find myself thinking back to some of those difficult projects. What would have happened if instead of slipping the schedule, I had been forced to ship on the original release date? Answer: the software flatly wouldn’t have worked. It wouldn’t just have been bad, it would have been an existential catastrophe. And it would have taken many months to fix, not many weeks.

So perhaps that’s where we are with the Obamacare site. I hope not, but it’s sure starting to look that way. And if things really are this bad, I really, really hope there a Plan B. Beefed up phone banks. Paper and pencil. Something.

Relax, Kevin! Of course they have a backup plan! What kind of idiots wouldn’t have a backup plan for their glitchy, held-together-with-spit-and-baling-wire, powered-by-a-gerbil-wheel website? Secretary Sebelius, tell Kevin about the backup plan!

The Health and Human Services Department will meet its central ObamaCare deadline and does not need a backup plan for delays, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday.

Ruh-roh, Shaggy!

Meanwhile, finding people who actually have successfully signed up for Obamacare is like finding Waldo.

The one who successfully signed up online is wearing a striped shirt. No, not that one.

In Florida:

Will the Floridians who have enrolled for Obamacare please stand up?

Nearly two weeks after the federal government launched the online Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, individuals who have successfully used the choked-up website to enroll for a subsidized health insurance plan have reached a status akin to urban legend: Everyone has heard of them, but very few people have actually met one.

The Miami Herald searched high and low for individuals who completed enrollment for a subsidized health plan through the marketplace, also called an exchange, launched by the federal government on Oct. 1 in 36 states, including Florida.

Okay, how about up in New England?

Vermont has had 631 people sign up for insurance through its state-run Obamacare exchange as of Tuesday morning.

Okay, how about Delaware?

According to a Washington Post report Wednesday morning, 59-year-old Janice Baker officially became the first confirmed enrollee in the Delaware Obamacare exchange that opened.

Okay, how about Wisconsin?

A Wisconsin Reporter review of the insurers in Wisconsin’s federally controlled Health Insurance Marketplace seems to confirm what the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance told the MacIver News Service earlier this week: There has been ‘minimal participation’ in the exchange to date. OCI estimated the number of people signed up was fewer than 50.

Okay, how about Hawaii?

Officials claim that HawaiiHealthConnector.com, the online Obamacare exchange designed to provide individuals and small businesses with information about health care plans, federal subsidies and tax credits, is now fully operational. But that wasn’t the case yesterday for some who tried to log on.

The website went live Oct. 1 after a great deal of media hype, but for two weeks, the exchange had no information on the 95 health insurance plans it would eventually offer, including pricing.

Some individuals and businesses contacted insurance companies directly, and were issued the same plans, but they couldn’t apply for the tax credits or federal subsidies by not going through the exchange.

Coral Andrews, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, said the exchange’s website was fully operational as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

But while some consumers were able to view the information on plans and pricing, others continued to receive an error message that read: “This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later” or were greeted by a blank page.

It’s not absolutely disastrous everywhere, but it’s not good anywhere, either:

CNN found that 20,994 people had enrolled in and paid for Obamacare in the 14 state-run exchanges and the District of Columbia.

The Atlantic calculates “at least 115,000 people” have completed applications — but some of those folks still have to pick out a plan and begin paying for it.

Obama administration’s prediction by October 31: 494,620. Goal in the first year: 7 million.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Over 47 million nonelderly Americans were uninsured in 2012.”

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