In an article that provides a “timeline of ObamaCare deception,” Tuesday’s Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) editorial posed the question as to whether Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is “a liar or just inept?”
No wonder HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is reluctant to testify about the ObamaCare disaster. She has to decide whether to admit that she willfully misled Congress for months or was completely out of touch.
Citing the May 9 report by USA Today, IBD noted that HHS officials – who “spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal meetings” -- said the department had "met its deadlines (and) tested its system." What's more, they said exchanges "can support expected large volumes of traffic."
According to IBD, “it was all completely bogus.”
In fact, the Government Accountability Office reported in June that HHS had missed several deadlines in building the exchanges, and that it was in danger of not making its Oct. 1 start date.
During an April 30 press conference, Obama said all that’s “left to implement” regarding Obamacare was setting up the exchanges.
That’s it. I mean, that’s what’s left to implement, because the other stuff has been implemented and it’s working fine.
However, as Examiner reported Aug. 19, a June 5 memorandum from the Congressional Research Service noted that the White House had actually “missed half” of the 82 deadlines “legally required” by Obamacare and that “some of those deadlines remain unmet to this day.”
Also on Tuesday, Real Clear Politics reported of the interview between Sebelius and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.
After noting that “the president did say that he was angry about” the Obamacare exchange website “glitches” – which have remained unresolved since the Oct. 1 launch-date -- Gupta asked Sebelius if she knew “when he first knew that there was a problem?”
SEBELIUS: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days.
GUPTA: So not before that though?
However, as Real Clear Politics reported Oct. 9, CNN correspondent Brian Todd told Wolf Blitzer – senior anchor of “The Situation Room” -- that “the administration was warned about these potential problems months in advance.”
“We spoke to Robert Lushevsky (ph) [spelled, “Laszewski”], he is a health care consultant who [has] clients who are insurers,” Todd explained.
He says his insurers who dealt with the administration in the months ahead of time, he says the insurers he dealt with had contentious meetings with people form HHS and other health care officials who were in charge of this. Contentious meetings in the months before this rollout, warning them, this isn’t working. It’s not going to be smooth. Don’t do it right then. He says those warnings were ignored, they went full speed ahead, and said we’ll work these problems out. Now, there has been a bit of pushback from the White House, we hope to get more later from then.
IBD further noted that “news reports also make it clear that HHS did not fully test the exchange until just days before it launched. And those tests showed that the site would crash even if just a handful tried to sign in.”
Now the White House is flying in an army of tech experts from the government and the private sector to fix the $394 million federal exchange that Sebelius and Gary Cohen, who was in charge of setting up the exchanges, had repeatedly and emphatically claimed was on track and would be ready to go.
Moreover, other comments made by Obama at the April 30 press conference appear to confirm that he was, in fact, made aware of the problems with the exchange website “months in advance” and even anticipated that the problems would not be solved by the Oct. 1 launch date.
“The challenge,” he said, “is that setting up a market-based system, basically an online marketplace where you can go on and sign up and figure out what kind of insurance you can afford and figuring out how to get the subsidies -- that’s still a big, complicated piece of business.”
And the last point I’ll make -- even if we do everything perfectly, there will still be glitches and bumps, and there will be stories that can be written that say, oh, look, this thing is not working the way it’s supposed to, and this happened and that happened. And that’s pretty much true of every government program that’s ever been set up.
Through a Tuesday blog post on HHS.gov Sebelius said she was “very pleased to announce” that the Obama administration is bringing Jeff Zients, a “management expert and former CEO and Chairman of two publicly traded companies on board to work in close cooperation with our HHS team to provide management advice and counsel to the project.”
“Zients,” as Reuters reported Sept. 13, is “a familiar figure at the White House.”
Prior to being tapped by Obama to replace Gene Sperling as his top economic adviser, Zients “served two stints as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, but was passed over for the top job.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, “this will be a temporary assignment for Mr. Zients, who is slated to become the next director of the National Economic Council on Jan. 1. He left the White House earlier this year and was announced as the NEC pick last month
“Nobody says the site is working the way we want it to,” Sebelius admitted to Gupta. “Certainly, the president acknowledged yesterday no one could be more frustrated than I am and this isn't smooth.”
But she also said that “people are signing up every day” and that “people have available coverage and no one, I think it's important to say, Sanjay, is losing coverage now.”
As Kaiser Health News reported Monday, “health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.”
Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.
“And again,” Sebelius reiterated to Gupta, “people can sign up.”
The call center is open for business. We've had 1,100,000 calls. We've had 19 million people visit the website. Five-hundred thousand accounts created and people shopping every day. So, people are signing up and there's help in neighborhoods around the country that people can have a one-on-one visit with a trained navigator and figure out how to sign up. So people are able to sign up.
However, “1,100,00 calls,” 19 million people visiting the website and “five-hundred thousand accounts” being created does not indicate how many people have actually enrolled.
In fact, when asked directly by Jon Stewart during an Oct. 8 interview on “The Daily Show,” Sebelius admitted that she had no idea how many people had “fully enrolled.”
SEBELIUS: I can't tell you because I don't know. We are taking applications on the web, on the phone. We'll be giving monthly reports. But I can tell you we've had not only lots of web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created. We have lots…
STEWART: So it’s been hundreds of thousands of people have signed up?
SEBELIUS: Of accounts created which means that then they’re going to go shopping.
As Forbes reported Oct. 14, “industry analyst Bob Laszewski” – the same “health care consultant who [has] clients who are insurers” quoted by Todd during the aforementioned segment with Wolf Blitzer on CNN -- said that “not more than about 5,000 individuals and families signed up for health insurance” through healthcare.gov as of Oct. 7.
On Oct. 18, Market Watch reported that “insurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far, in a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified.”
“But the problems with Obamacare go much deeper than a few million lines of faulty code and a sign-up system that swallows enrollee applications in a single electronic gulp,” The Chicago Tribune reported in Tuesday’s editorial.
The bugs aren't just in the software. They're in the law itself.