It’s hard to overstate how disconcerting the news about our government has been since Obamacare debuted on October 1st.
The HealthCare.gov rollout for consumers, utterly disastrous and demoralizing as it has been, is in the grand scheme a far-down-the-list annoyance. Its most beneficial result has been to teach Americans with their eyes even remotely open that our government has devolved to the point where it can’t carry out even the simplest of tasks.
Over a long weekend followed by some supplemental tweaking, the three guys who built the working Affordable Care Act policy search web site known as TheHealthSherpa.com for free accomplished what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s assembled contractors and bureaucrats couldn’t get done with a 42-month head start and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, Team Sebelius’s work has been extraordinarily shoddy. Four IT experts told a congressional hearing this week that the currently not secure web site won’t be secure by the government’s self-imposed but increasingly squishy November 30 deadline. You would think in these circumstances that no one with a brain would suggest that users visit HealthCare.gov and attempt to enroll. You would be wrong. On Wednesday, Sebelius said that she “feels like it’s safe.” She “knows” it is not. A private firm executive allowing this travesty to continue for 50 days would be in jail, and his or her company would be shut down permanently.
Behind the curtain, things are far worse. With about 25 business days left before the provision of medical services is set to begin, what remains undone is downright terrifying.
We’re told that the problem with HealthCare.gov sending bad enrollment information to insurers, first reported five weeks ago but surely discovered just days after the site’s launch, is only “two-thirds” fixed.
That’s the “good” news.
On Tuesday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deputy chief information officer Henry Chao told a House hearing that “the back-office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems, they still need be built.” Chao had plenty of chances to correct himself, and didn’t. It’s reasonable to believe, especially based on this administration’s track record, that Chao really said that work on these systems hasn’t even started.
As awful as all of this is, what’s infinitely worse is that the administration still clings to the notion that its core guarantee — that “if you like your health care plan (and doctor, and provider), you can keep your health care plan (and doctor, and provider)” — remains true for 95 percent of Americans. It’s not.
Given one more chance to come clean with the American people on November 14th, Obama instead chose to perpetuate that myth (bolds are mine):
With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan, you can keep it, I think — and I’ve said in interviews — that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient.
Keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5 percent of the population. So when I said you can keep your health care, I’m looking at folks who’ve got employer-based health care …
Obama’s “5 percent” lowball estimate of the individual market is really eight percent. But it’s his statement about employer-based health care which officially and irretrievably takes his and his administration’s fundamental dishonesty to a new level.