Obamacare Roll-Out Bombs

Original Article

A fiasco for the governmental ages….

Begin with ObamaCare’s latest humiliation statistic: more people have signed up to go to Mars when technology permits, than have signed up at the federal government’s health care website.  At a time of record public distrust of government and their leaders, this happens.

As for the president’s telemarketing pitch from the Rose Garden on Monday, it is yet the latest example that while Barack Obama is our president, he is not a president.

John Fund demolishes Team Obama’s “the site crashed because it was too popular and thus overloaded with applicants” alibi:

Well, for starters, a lot of people would like to know how the federal government showered $634 million on a host of IT contractors to build, a website that has had the worst debut of any product since New Coke. The site is supposed to provide a menu of insurance plans for Americans in the 36 states without their own site. Instead, it has become a black box – the few applications insurance companies have managed to receive from it are glitch-filled and error-riddled, the insurers say.

President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have both said that the problems were caused by the site’s popularity – the system was overloaded by too many users eager to sign up. But in the two weeks following its October 1 launch, the number of visitors to dropped by 88 percent, based on the findings of the Millward Brown Digital research firm. The site has been taken down at least twice for “fixes.”

He details just how awful the procurement of website software was:

CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that Sebelius, who says she’s too busy to answer Congress’s questions on Thursday, has carved out time to attend the Kennedy Forum gala in Boston the night before the hearing.

Sebelius is also finding time to attend “happy talk” events promoting The only problem is that at the last two she attended, in Florida and in Pittsburgh, the site once again didn’t work. The Wall Street Journal reported from Pittsburgh: “Uninsured residents . . . tried to sign up on laptops brought in for the special event. But the system was down.”

“Top administration officials repeatedly testified everything was on track, but the broad technological failures reveal that was not the case,” Chairman Upton said in a statement. “The president and top officials were quick to boast the number of visitors to, but they have since gone silent.”

One reason for the silence may be that the story of how the website was designed – and bungled – is just too awful. The Washington Examiner has reported that “rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.” In fact, a full 13 months ago, the Canadian province of Ontario fired CGI for failing to deliver on time a new online medical registry. But that apparently raised no alarm bells back in Washington.

And he notes upcoming deadlines that may force postponement of the individual mandate:

Well, here’s a basic fact. If isn’t fixed quickly, it will run up against something called a reality check. On January 1, all Americans will be required by law to have health insurance. The deadline to apply for health coverage – and avoid paying a penalty of up to 1 percent of income – is February 15. This is not the same deadline as that marking the end of the open-enrollment period, which is March 31. So you could enroll after February 15, but you would pay the penalty. As Politico dryly noted last week: “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.”

Now, savor this brief video montage of assurances from HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius–whose mindless shilling and avoidance of Congress as she goes to parties & softie talk-shows is now irritating supporters in Congress–that the roll-out will go smoothly come October 1.  (John Stewart, on October 8, gave Sebelius a grilling, and quipped: “I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, and you are going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”

But expect Team Obama to never give in on this one like they folded on Syria and will fold on Iran.  Already, Democrats looking towards the 2014 off-year electionsfear voter backlash, likely to grow as more insurance companies cancel insurance policies for non-compliance with O-Care’s new rules.  Ditto when voters find out that contrary to the president’s solemn promise many will not be able to keep their existing plan; already 300,000 have lost their coverage in Florida–projected nationwide this would mean 6 million would be forced into ObamaCare.  Even blue-green Vermont, eager to implement O-Care, faces ahealth care train wreck.  Team Obama has called on their high-tech amigos tolift O-Care out of the software quagmire–fixing at least 5 million lines of code out of 500 million lines supplied by 55 contractors.

The O-Care software is five times the size typical for a large bank–and was tested for only 6 days!  Worse, WaPo reports that one test, just before going live online, saw the system crashed by a few hundred simultaneous users.  AP reports that a planned upgrade has been shelved.

Yet how does one fix choices like this:

Many twenty and thirty somethings are paying off $20,000-$30,000 student loans. Many others don’t have jobs. And those that do, already subsidize Social Security.

With only a small penalty for abstaining, the numbers for signing up not only don’t add up – they’re absurd. Here’s one of the supposedly attractive deals: “One option available only to people under 30 is a so-called catastrophic policy that kicks in after a $6,350 annual deductible. In Monroe County, you can buy that policy on the New York State of Health exchange for as low as $131 a month for single coverage.”

Over fifteen hundred a year for a sixty-three hundred plus deductible? What healthy thirty year old would waste his or her money?

Even mainstream media cannot hide this by sugar-coating coverage or simply ignoring the issue; and the president’s dissociate reaction is annoying even his liberal courtiers in the press corps.  Unlike the arcana of shutdown and default maneuvers inside the Beltway, voters will either have real-life experience or know others who do.

Marc Theissen writes persuasively that the Tea Party needs a General George Washington, who wins a series of unspectacular incremental rearguard victories, rather than a General Horatio Gates (think: Ted Cruz), whose all-out confrontational Light Brigade approach led the Continentals to their worst defeat (Camden) of the Revolutionary War.

Bottom Line.  The odds still favor ObamaCare eventually taking root. if Team Obama stands fast on not delaying the individual mandate.  but if roll-out troubles persist into next spring they will be forced to delay the mandate, to avoid criminal penalties falling upon voters who try to enroll but are prevented by government inefficiency from doing so in timely fashion.  Can the best techies fix a monster mess in time?   A daunting task indeed, but, alas for ObamaCare opponents, probably not an impossible one.

John Wohlstetter

Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute
John C. Wohlstetter is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute (beg. 2001) and the Gold Institute for International Strategy (beg. 2021). His primary areas of expertise are national security and foreign policy, and the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He is author of Sleepwalking With The Bomb (2nd ed. 2014), and The Long War Ahead and The Short War Upon Us (2008). He was founder and editor of the issues blog Letter From The Capitol (2005-2015). His articles have been published by The American Spectator, National Review Online, Wall Street Journal, Human Events, Daily Caller, PJ Media, Washington Times and others. He is an amateur concert pianist, residing in Charleston, South Carolina.