The Obama Administration Lied

 

October 23, 2013
 

 

They spent months telling us would never be like this. But look at what it is now and realize national health care will be just like the Obamacare Exchange debacle: Delays, denials of service, waiting lines, no one answering the phone, and a president that says, “Keep trying.”

The Exchange -- the key Obamacare infrastructure for implementing national health care nationwide -- is currently a colossal flop. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska received only four applications in the first 10 days, Fox News reports. As of Friday they’d received 50, but the applications had “so many errors” Blue Cross has hired temporary employees to process them manually and contact consumers directly. Remember how the exchange was supposed to be as easy as Travelocity?
 
Instead…it’s become the brunt of jokes. On October 7, comedian Jon Stewart on The Daily Show he told HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “I’m gonna try and download every movie ever made, and you’re gonna try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”
 
A technology expert, quoted by The New York Times, says as many as five million lines of software code may need to be rewritten to make the healthcare.gov website work, potentially putting people in danger of not being covered as required on January 1.
 
In response, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to delay the individual mandate until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) certifies that the exchange system is “up and running and effectively working for six months, consecutive.” 
 
Despite red flags everywhere, the administration spent months assuring Congress in sworn testimony that the exchanges would be all set to go by October 1. Gary Cohen, head of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), which is overseeing implementation of exchanges repeatedly testified to exchange readiness:
 
“CMS has been … building Exchange infrastructure and initiating the many information technology (IT) and business activities needed to assure readiness for Exchange open enrollment beginning October 1, 2013.” (12/13/12)
 
“The progress already made and the foundations we have developed give us confidence that the Marketplace will be ready for consumers on October 1.” (2/14/13)
 
“Starting in October 2013, consumers will also be able to use www.HealthCare.gov to shop for coverage beginning in 2014…” (4/11/13)
 
“When consumers visit the Marketplace through HealthCare.gov beginning on October 1, 2013, they will experience a new way to shop for health insurance coverage.” (9/19/13
 
“Consumers will be able to go online…they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in a plan on October 1st.” (9/19/13 video)
 
In August, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are on target and ready to flip the switch on Oct. 1.”
 
All lies.
 
Trouble began on day one. Some people tried for days. Others gave up. On Monday, three weeks after the exchanges “opened,” I was listening to radio talk show host Sean Hannity talk to an exchange call center worker. Amazing call. This friendly worker told him she had been told to read from a script that tells consumers that the Exchange system will be offline for 42 hours and that they should try back later.
 
Silicon Valley never believed the administration. As SV venture capitalist Marc Andreessen told POLITICO on Monday, nobody in the Valley “is even remotely surprised this happened.” Experts say they should have started small and made sure it worked for users first. California’s chief information officer says the odds of fixing it are “50-50”.
 
White House secrecy continues. The administration who kept exchange building plans hush-hush now refuses to disclose how many have enrolled, exactly what the problems are or who “the best and brightest” experts are that are supposedly coming to the rescue -- USA Today reported that at least one is Verizon but Verizon refused to confirm.
 
The stakes are high. Federal exchange funding disappears on January 1, 2015. The administration needs 7 million enrollees – and their cash – by the end of open enrollment on March 31, 2013 to keep Exchanges afloat. And many enrollees need to be young and healthy – the kind that refuse to deal with bad technology.
 
The irony is hard to miss. National Public Radio reports, “HealthCare.gov was meant to create a simple, easy way for millions of Americans to shop for subsidized health care. Instead, in a little two more than weeks, it has become the poster child for the federal government's technical ineptitude.”
 
May it be so…all the way to repeal. But don’t count on it. The Obama administration has a cast and crew of pro-Obama tech giants, from executives in General Electric to Microsoft. Even if they get it working, we must all work to get it repealed. 
 
 
Working to secure health freedom for all,
 
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder