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Answers remain scarce weeks into Obamacare website launch

Answers remain scarce weeks into Obamacare website launch

Two weeks into the launch of the Obamacare website, issues continue to be unearthed and the administration remains short on answers.

A few interesting paragraphs from this piece in Politico last night:

At a summit of health care advocacy groups at the Newseum on Tuesday, the audience was asked how many had successfully made it through HealthCare.gov even far enough to browse the selection of health plans. Only two out of about 70 people raised their hands.

The administration hasn’t said much about the nature of the technical problems. Officials initially described them as the kind of “glitches” that inevitably occur in a tech launch, and attributed them to the high interest in new health coverage options that drove unexpectedly high traffic to HealthCare.gov.

They aren’t blaming “glitches” and “traffic” anymore. In fact, they haven’t said much at all in the past few days, while a string of leaked emails, memos and reports describe deeper hardware and software malfunctions. Today, again, featured a “No comment” from the administration.

The website itself talks about a crush of media questions — but doesn’t post any answers. People trying to sign on get a variety of error messages — including one that says fixes are expected “within 24 hours.”

President Barack Obama has gotten surprisingly few questions about the enrollment problems as the country — and Republican critics of the health law — focused on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling battle. Obama did say in a Tuesday interview with KCCI-TV, “The website that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable.”

This is precisely the point I’ve been emphasizing here at Legal Insurrection on this subject.  We’ve outlined many of the technical “glitches” and established there are deeper issues with the website (and with Obamacare itself).  While many have focused entirely on the contractors responsible for building the site, we’ve also emphasized that the administration should also bear responsibility for what appears to be a woeful failure in planning.  But the administration has not been open and straightforward about the issues or what’s being done to address them.

Each day, we learn of additional important planning details that apparently went unnoticed by the administration.  As noted on the second page of that Politico article above, the IRS was seemingly unaware that people would need to actually sign up for a plan by mid-February in order to meet the end of March deadline.

In general, Americans have until the end of March to enroll in a 2014 Obamacare plan, but to avoid a tax penalty, they’ll have to sign up by mid-February. This quirk, unearthed by industry observers, appears to have gone previously unnoticed by the administration.

“The IRS didn’t know that,” said Jackson Hewitt Vice President Brian Haile, who recently brought the issue to the administration’s attention.

(By the way, read all of page 2 of that Politico piece…a few other interesting details I may follow up on in a separate post).

In all, there have been few answers.  Only deflections and spin – such as, the website was simply overwhelmed by the demand, a problem that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called “a great problem to have.”  Straight-forward, honest answers have been all but non-existent.  At some point, the administration needs to be pressured to give the public more than just spin.

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It still amazes me that roughly half of the GOP Senators and 1/5 of the GOP house members voted to keep this monstrosity going. They would not even fight for a one-year delay of the individual mandate.

As Mark Steyn once noted: sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. The same is true of political parties.

    Too corrupt to survive is even more likely. The majority of politicians and citizen/freeloaders all are ripping as much out of society as they can carry with two hands. McConnell gets a few billion for public works which will directly translate into donation dollars. Obama cronies get hundreds of million to develop a service that could be done by a team of undergraduates–of course the money gets laundered right back into Dem coffers if not back pockets.

    And some people will get free healthcare, which translates into votes for Democrats. And all it took was to rip off the stubbornly ignorant middle class using indoctrination and propaganda–again free courtesy of the media.

    Quite the great deal while it lasts.

    Too corrupt to survive is even more likely. The majority of politicians and citizen/freeloaders all are ripping as much out of society as they can carry with two hands. McConnell gets a few billion for public works which will directly translate into donation dollars. Obama cronies get hundreds of million to develop a service that could be done by a team of undergraduates–of course the money gets laundered right back into Dem coffers if not back pockets.

    And some people will get free healthcare, which translates into votes for Democrats. And all it took was to rip off the stubbornly ignorant middle class using indoctrination and propaganda–again free courtesy of the media.

    Quite the great deal while it lasts.

    Too corrupt to survive is even more likely. The majority of politicians and citizen/freeloaders all are ripping as much out of society as they can carry with two hands. McConnell gets a few billion for public works which will directly translate into donation dollars. Obama cronies get hundreds of million to develop a service that could be done by a team of undergraduates–of course the money gets laundered right back into Dem coffers if not back pockets.

    And some people will get free healthcare, which translates into votes for Democrats. And all it took was to rip off the stubbornly ignorant middle class using indoctrination and propaganda–again free courtesy of the media.

    Quite the great deal while it lasts.

The Drill SGT | October 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

“While many have focused entirely on the contractors responsible for building the site, we’ve also emphasized that the administration should also bear responsibility for what appears to be a woeful failure in planning. ”

The contractors, even CGI or Oracle can’t be blamed for the debacle. HHS, in the form of its agency CMS decided that they were going to be the “system Integrator” (SI) for the effort. The “General Contractor” in home building terms. CGI and Oracle and 50 other firms all were responsible for “pieces”. It is the SI who shoulders the entire obligation to make the pieces fit. The subcontractors, “e.g. Oracle” provide the pieces according to system specs. The SI builds the specs. and integrates them…

A few Federal agencies are capable of being the SI on their own for mid-sized software projects. The ones that come to mind are DISA, the USAF ESC, Navy SPAWAR, Army SEC. That is the entire focus of those agencies. CMS’s core competency is writing checks…

Even those DoD agencies with certified professional SW Program Managers typically bring in another outside vendor to provide additional engineering horsepower on the Fed side to watch the SI deliver.

Destined to fail…

Anyone that expected DisasterCare, to be up running, effective and something that is worth the money, is exactly like the ‘Free Phone Lady’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tpAOwJvTOio

Sorry I build high traffic webs sites for a living. The performance of the website is abysmal and inexcusable. There is no valid technical reason for it, building high traffic websites is a pretty well understood science at this point in time. How they went through $500 Million at this point and have nothign to show for it, is beyond me. I could BUY a whole data center with that kind of money, staff it, with a huge call center and handled millions of concurrents with it with lightening response times.

I can only imagine the reason how they went through all this money so quickly is that they paid top dollar for licenses of enterprise grade vaporware and had nothing left for servers or developers.

    The Drill SGT in reply to imfine. | October 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Servers? I would hope they didn’t try to build a datacenter, but rather outsourced it to somebody who actually knows commercial data centers. As for developers? You know they ran out of money AND TIME for Testers 🙂

    Paul in reply to imfine. | October 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Amen brother (or sister). This is a joke. We’re 20 years into the commercial web now. There are hundreds of sites that handle complex e-commerce functionality with user and transaction loads equal to what these clowns are buckling under (many far greater).

    But this is what everybody who isn’t a flaming proggie knew would happen. This is what always happens with bureaucracy. You have a hopelessly complex bill that basically creates legions of bureaucrats who can create regulations at will and on a continual basis. How on earth could such a monstrosity be codified into a working software application? It’s destined to fail. It would be fun to watch the proggies eat humble pie if it wasn’t so devastating for many individuals and for the country as a whole.

    Will the proggies ever admit their mistake and kill this thing?

      snopercod in reply to Paul. | October 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Will the proggies ever admit their mistake and kill this thing?

      Jeffrey Lord makes a persuasive case that they will, just like they got us into the Vietnam War and then five years later rose up in civil disobedience and forced congress to get us out. Obamacare: The New Vietnam

    Exiliado in reply to imfine. | October 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    In other words, the “unexpected high traffic” story if just a bunch of bull…

    iconotastic in reply to imfine. | October 18, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Much of the money was laundered back into Dem campaign coffers.

    Remember, ObamaCare works better if it fails. Then not only is all the graft hidden but the health insurance industry dies just that much faster.

Failure, schmailure.

Accountability is for chumps. Certainly not for generous & compassionate government geniuses.

Probably, like, racist, too. Or something. (Look, a squirrel!)

So now we know what retired proctologists do…. they design web sites for the government health care program.

Let’s face it. We are being tyrannized by a stupid ruling class that has endeared itself to sufficiently large numbers of voters to be solidly entrenched. The Palinization of Palin and now the attempt on Cruz demonstrate that the ruling class knows from where it can be attacked, and all potential attacks must be preempted.
obamacare truly is the watershed for our once-great nation: It is not only the un-American “law” itself, but those who support it, those who only pretend to oppose it, and the media treatment of it.
I am sad for our children, for our grandchildren, and for those who preceded us and gave their full measure to keep alive the once-wonderful idea of America.

    Radegunda in reply to Rick. | October 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I have yet to hear anyone who voted for this monstrosity express the slightest remorse over the harm it’s doing to the millions of Americans who already had health insurance they wanted to keep but are now losing it and being priced out of the market — entirely as a result of Democrat votes.

    They may be embarrassed about the technology “glitches,” but is there one atom of shame about the deeper injuries they’re inflicting on the middle class they claim to care about?

    Democrats keep becoming more and more disgusting.

      MarkS in reply to Radegunda. | October 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

      The remorse should be from Chief Justice John Roberts for his illogical, illegal and most likely unconstitutional ruling

the website was simply overwhelmed by the demand, a problem that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called “a great problem to have“. BULL. What Sebelius describes is an issue with a business site that has people voluntarily show up to get their product. That in NO WAY describes this situation whereas the Government has DEMANDED everyone buy their product. They knew pretty darn well how many citizens would need to go to the site and get their offerings. To not have planned for the rush that they drove is yet one more in a long line of Obamacare scandals.

pablo panadero | October 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Very simply, it does not matter whether the site is operational to the Obama team. In fact, it is preferable that it is not working.

The site requires that you first qualify yourself for what you can buy, then shop for what is available, as opposed to shop for what you want, then find out if it is available. This was done to limit citizens from knowing what would be available should they have slightly different qualifications.

With no real penalty for non-compliance ($95 fee/tax), young people who will be hurt most by the higher prices will not buy, but older folks who are less hurt will. With no youngsters to balance the older folks (and the mandate that the difference in cost be no more than 30%), insurance companies will go broke with the old folks.

With the insurance companies out of the way, single payer is implemented. Yes, lots of wealth is destroyed along the way, but if wealth cannot be redistributed, it might as well be destroyed.

    “With no real penalty for non-compliance ($95 fee/tax)”

    It’s actually $95 OR 1% OF INCOME, WHICHEVER IS HIGHER.

    I don’t know if that’s 1% of adjusted or total income, but I fear it’s the latter. Also, that’s just in year 1. Then it goes up.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | October 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

We don’t actually know the number of people who have signed up for ObamaCare so far, but Instapundit notes that it is likely to be a smaller number than those who have signed up for a (one way!) trip to Mars.
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-09/12/over-200000-apply-to-live-on-mars

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | October 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    The week before the roll-out the most frequently asked question was how to avoid having to comply. The second most was about how one transitions from the state insurance risk pools for preexisting conditions to the Obamacare exchange as those with coverage through the pools will lose it after December 31.

    I have a feeling a decent percentage of those who stuck with the site long enough to get through were those who had been covered by the state pools and had been notified they needed to get new coverage by December 15. That would mean new people were not helped, they were just shifted to a different program.

      Some of them seem to have been people who were informed that their premiums were doubling or worse, and checked the site to see if they could get a better deal. What I hear is that it might be better than the post-Dec.-31 options, but worse than what they’ve had up to Dec. 31.

      More people who really aren’t being helped, just shifted to something inferior to what they previously had.

I have read elsewhere that a large part of the problem with the website was that most of the rules were not finalized until after the 2012 election. It was a political decision to avoid fallout prior to the election. So they really couldn’t start writing the program until this year and also that HHS kept changes rules up to at least this summer causing further problems with writing code.

Plus you have to register in a complicated manner prior to seeing the plans because the administration doesn’t want anyone to see the actual cost of the plans prior to finding out what subsidy for which they may be qualified. Politics again. Trying to avoid the sticker shock. All the mandates such as “free well visits” have to be paid for up front as part of your premium. Not to mention how high the deductibles are going to be. Obamacare is like a catastrophic plan but costs like a Cadillac plan.

Worse, while CFPB officials claim that all of the data they collect is anonymous, they have failed to explain how they will maintain consumers’ privacy, as the Daily Caller’s Bordelon reports. While Dodd-Frank bars the CFPB from collecting consumers’ “personally identifiable financial information,” merely stripping individual names and account numbers from financial records is no assurance they cannot be linked to specific persons. Unmasking an anonymous credit card holder is a trivial endeavor if you know each time, location, and business where a particular credit card has been swiped.

How did we come to this? The main reason is that Dodd-Frank specifically exempts the CFPB from a bipartisan law enacted in the 1970s to protect Americans’ financial privacy.

… remember, this was Liz Warren’s gig, till she forgot to show up for confirmation hearings.

After 2 weeks of frustration with Healthcare.gov, which would not work with my GMAIL account registration, I re-registered with a different email for a domain I own. It registered quickly and I commenced the application process last evening, which worked without a hitch. It took a little over an hour to go through the application and part of that was hunting up our pension statements to get exact numbers for monthly income.

There were a number of repetitive questions about my ethnicity I found funny. Are you Hispanic? No. What is your ethnicity? White. Are you American Indian? No. Are you Alaska Indian? No.

If the government weren’t so damn punitive any more, I’d have answered “all of the above” and I’m part St. Bernard, too – the part that drools all the time – in my sleep, at least.

Some of the stuff was confusing and may have effected the outcome. When it asked for income, I entered the gross monthly earning, which it calculated. Likewise my wife. There were NO help links/balloons to clarify whether to use gross or after tax amounts. Also, there was a question dealing with deductions. It asked if I was filing with Married Filing Jointly status, which is yes, but also asked about number of dependents to be claimed. I assume it credits me with 2 for my wife and me, and the question about dependents applies to other household members / children.

The lack of help links and embedded instructions in the online interactive questionnaire make the application process a kind of crap-shoot.

When done with the application, it presented me with a downloadable letter in PDF format, with a preliminary “eligibility” finding. It says:

“May be eligible for Illinois Family Care (Medicaid). You will receive a final decision from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If you qualify for Illinois Family Care (Medicaid), you won’t qualify for a tax credit and lower copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage.”

The application is shown as “In Process” in my Healthcare.gov account, with the status: “Initial enrollment to Illinois Family Care’s Medicaid Program”

I’m surprised about the Medicaid thing as I’ll turn 58 end of this year. I thought Medicaid was for old farts?

Long story short:

The state of Illinois punted me to Obamacare.

Obamacare punted me back to the state of Illinois.

The system shows my application status as complete. I was presented no ‘marketplace’ options as the analysis shooed me off to IL ‘Family Services’.

The clock is ticking on the state of IL determination of my eligibility for state options.

    Rick in reply to MrE. | October 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Our racist tyrant rulers need to know your race. Sure.

    “I thought Medicaid was for old farts?”

    No, Medicare is for old farts. Medicaid is for “the poor”, and you really don’t want it if you have any other option. Medicaid reimbursements are so lousy, and the agency jerks doctors around so much, that you’ll have a hard time finding physicians who will accept it.

    You’ll be one of the millions who will have health insurance, but who will have a very hard time getting health care.

      I don’t really understand the Healthcare.gov decision, Amy. It makes sense if they are only considering my income. My pension is a fraction of my wifes; the result of a decision we made shortly after marrying in ’97, that I’d resign my aerospace job in Seattle and move to rural IL where she lived and taught HS.

      It won’t come as a surprise if IL punts me back to the marketplace. The verbiage in the assessment suggests I’m eligible for subsidy IF IL finds me ineligible for medicaid.

        I wouldn’t trust any information being spit out by healthcare.gov just yet. If they couldn’t even get the coding for basic check boxes right, I don’t have a lot of faith that their coding for doing calculations and such is sound either.

          Well, while running errands yesterday, I stopped by the county health department, which per the Healthcare.gov web site, staffs “trained” marketplace navigators. I asked if they had access to the system and they didn’t. When the young man suggested the system didn’t work because of the shutdown and I bit my tongue.

          Every question sent him thumbing through the manual. There were no paper applications, no handouts, nothing but commiseration over the non working system. Upon parting, he wanted my name and phone to log as someone they “helped”. I laughed and said “what the hell” and gave it to him. Small town – someone in the office could have told him who I was if I didn’t.

          Felt sorry for the kid – the $450/mo. state insurance plan I cut back to when the $800 TRS plan proved too expensive, he couldn’t afford.

          We could only guess at what is going to happen and figured the best solution for now is a delay in the individual mandate and 1 year extension for existing insurance policies. But something tells me that O/Dem pride is going to get in the way of any sensible solution …

Henry Hawkins | October 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Now more than ever, America needs a hero. Someone to take the reins and make it all right. A man who will step up, right the wrongs, and left the rights. More than ever, America needs… JIMMY CARTER.

An anonymous source says they didn’t even test the Obamacare website until a week before launch due to multiple factors, including “top-level management disarray.”

Comment of the day: “More people have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars than have signed up for Obamacare.”

Henry Hawkins | October 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Obama administration on Obamacare rollout:

“DAMN THE TORPEDOES! ALL ENGINES STOP!”

The one thing the world did not need, was Ted Cruz and company going “all in” for shutting the government down!

Guess who wears the stupid label?

Not for nothing the GOP is called the stupid party.

Obama, ahead, will prove to be more expensive than your current insurance.

Want effective insurance? It’s called “THE CO-PAY!” When you have to put down cash (in the neighborhood of 5% of the cost), you’d be surprised how many people don’t opt out for a new pair of glasses every year!

OH, THE BEST STORY! It may have been up at Drudge. A man got a bill for $95. He went to the program. He looked. And, he didn’t buy. So the IRS sent him a penalty bill.

Then?

NOT using the government site, he went looking around for health care options. And, found a plan he liked for less than half the “bronze” being charged up at ObamaCare.

Which, if you’ve noticed … is being called “ACA.” Obama doesn’t want his name on this thing! You gotta better reason for the name change?

    Hi Carol, that plan that’s half the cost of the bronze? Is probably only good through 12/31. I’ve been seeing that too on eSurance.com … just change the date from insurance NOW to insurance for 2014 and in my area, 81 plans and 5 providers is reduced to 2 providers and 11 plans, for twice the money or more.

    “A man got a bill for $95. He went to the program. He looked. And, he didn’t buy. So the IRS sent him a penalty bill.”

    I still don’t believe that story. There has to have been something more to it. Even if he allegedly got into the Obamacare exchange website on the very first day, and managed to created an account and enter all of his personal details, that means that it took less than two weeks for the IRS to send him a bill (for a penalty that won’t be charged unless you don’t have insurance by March, and you don’t have to have bought a policy from the government exchange, any ACA-compliant health insurance policy will do).

    And as Mr E pointed out, it’s unlikely that any bronze policy that takes effect when the government ones do, in January 2014, would be half the cost.

    Nothing about that guy’s claims sounds right. I was skeptical about “Chad Harrison”, and I’m skeptical about this.

The administration is known to be quite savvy when it comes to manufacturing composite people to advance their agenda or prop up O’s ego. I’ve read that some 19 million of Obama’s twitter followers are fakes. So, if it appears that the magic number of desired enrollees into ObamaCare is failing to meet expectations, they will create needed number of “Julia-bots” to make it appear that the program is a success.

“Haile says the administration could choose to relax enforcement of the individual mandate to get coverage”.

Oh I can’t wait to see the reactions from the left if this happens…

Oh…and healthcare.gov is in violation of the GPL as well:
http://m.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obamacare-website-violates-licensing-agreement-copyrighted-software_763666.html

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