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.DONATE
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