I’m Supposed to Believe that the Implementation of Obamacare Is Improving . . .

And I’m supposed to believe it based on reports like this one from Ezra Klein, who tells us the following:

A spin through HealthCare.Gov this morning went smoothly. The site loaded quickly. The process progressed easily. There were no error messages or endless hangs. I didn’t complete the final step of purchasing insurance but, until then, the site worked — or at least appeared to work — exactly as intended.

My experience isn’t rare. There are increasing reports that HealthCare.Gov is working better — perhaps much better — for consumers than it was a few short weeks ago. “Consumer advocates say it is becoming easier for people to sign up for coverage,” report Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Goldstein in the Washington Post. “The truth is, the system is getting stronger as it recovers from its disastrous launch,” writes Sam Baker in the National Journal. Applying “was no problem at all, with no delays,” says Paul Krugman.

Reports from inside the health care bureaucracy are also turning towards optimism. People who knew the Web site was going to be a mess on Oct. 1st are, for the first time, beginning to think HealthCare.Gov might work. Data backs them up: By mid-November, the pace of enrollment in the federal exchanges had doubled from what it was in October.

The Obama administration is certainly acting like they believe the site has turned the corner. Somashekhar and Goldstein report that they’re “moving on to the outreach phase, which had taken a back seat as they grappled with the faulty Web site. Next week, the White House will host an insurance-oriented ‘youth summit’ aimed at people ages 18 to 35, an age group whose participation in the health-care law will be critical to its success.”

The White House had held off on this kind of outreach because they believed it would simply drive people to a useless Web site. If they’re restarting the outreach, it’s because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that HealthCare.Gov will be able to convert the interest into enrollments.

(Emphasis mine.) A number of lemmings port side bloggers linked to Klein’s post, pounded their chests, and proclaimed that the problems with HealthCare.gov were coming to an end, and that soon, for Obamacare critics, their uppance would come. And remember, Klein claims that the White House is now “restarting the outreach” to get users to go back to HealthCare.gov because the White House believes that the website “will be able to convert the interest into enrollments.”

Won’t Klein–and the lemmings port side bloggers who cite him–be disappointed when they read this?

White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users.

At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile HealthCare.gov.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t strike me as a description of a website that is ready for prime time. To be sure, the New York Times article does say that the White House is trying anew to generate interest in the website, but if the site is still unable to handle new users, then the premise behind Klein’s reporting–and the cries of jubilation on the part of his lemmings port side bloggers who cite Klein–are all for naught. According to the Times article, the site is only able to handle 50,000 users at a time, and the White House is worried that 250,000 users might crash it. This is pathetic. No website worth its salt has these kinds of problems, and to call this situation “an improvement” only serves to reinforce just how deep a hole Obamacare has dug for itself, for the Obama administration, and for all who support the Affordable (ha!) Care Act. Expectations for the program must be rock bottom indeed, if people actually believe that things are coming up roses for Obamacare.

From one of Klein’s co-bloggers, more evidence that Klein and his lemmings port side bloggers who cite his optimistic forecasts are full of taurine fertilizer:

The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would delay a significant piece of the health-care law: the online small business insurance marketplace.

The Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, will not offer online enrollment until November 2014, a one-year delay from a launch that was initially planned for this past October.

Administration officials characterized the decision as one made necessary as they prioritized fixes to the individual health exchange, which the White House has promised will “work smoothly for the vast majority of users” by Dec. 1.

“What’s important in our work is to continue to prioritize the best consumer experience for those who are coming to us online,” Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille said. “These decisions all reflect [that] reality.”

How many Obamacare delays does this now make?

It should be noted that recently, Secretary Sebelius, who very much serves as the human face of the Obamacare calamity, was confronted with the consequences of her incompetence, and that of the Obama administration as a whole:

After the botched rollout of Obamacare, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made a stop in Orlando Tuesday morning in an attempt at damage control.

WFTV reported earlier this month about cancer patient, Gloria Canter, who received a cancellation notice from her health insurance company due to the Affordable Care Act.

Reporter Lori Brown asked Sebelius about the issue and she argued that patients forced to get new plans will benefit from them.

But Canter said she strongly disagrees.

[. . .]

. . . the Canters said they were happy with their old plan.

They said Florida Blue told them that their new plan will be more expensive.

The canters [sic] said they feel people like them with individual plans are being ignored simply because they don’t represent a majority of patients.

“We are not, Mr. President, faceless human beings,” Jay Canter said.

No, they aren’t. But they are treated that way by an administration that promised them better than what they are getting. An administration that promised people like the Canters that if they liked their health care plan, they could keep it. An administration that deliberately misled people like the Canters in making that promise.

And remember: The president and his allies didn’t just say that we could keep our health care plans if we liked them. He and his allies also told us that we could continue to see our doctors and hospitals if we wanted to. That promise has been broken as well, but it is nice to see that there are people who are fighting back against the loss of doctor/hospital choice:

Officials in at least a half dozen states are pushing back against health plans in the new insurance markets that limit choice of doctors and hospitals in a bid to control medical costs.

The plans don’t start offering coverage until January but they’re facing regulatory action, possible legislation, and in at least one case involving a high-profile children’s hospital, litigation.

The pushback against “narrow” provider networks recalls the backlash against managed care and health maintenance organizations  in the 1990s. Protests from consumers and hospitals eroded those attempts to restrain expenses by narrowing provider networks.

Now criticism of limited networks has risen as consumers realize that, despite President Barack Obama’s pledge that they could keep their doctors, their Affordable Care Act insurance may not include the physicians or hospitals they’ve been seeing.

The critique feeds into the politically damaging outcry over the millions of people whose health plans were cancelled. It’s unclear whether the limited choice of doctors and other providers will be as much of a concern to uninsured people who will be gaining subsidized coverage through the state-based marketplaces.

Still regulators and elected officials in a few states have already forced changes. Others are weighing legislation that could expand the networks.  Legal fights are brewing. In some cases, the officials are responding to complaints of health care systems or providers that were excluded.

May these folks go from strength to strength. Of course, it should be emphasized that they are providing leadership the Obama administration promised but failed to provide.

Meanwhile, I guess I am supposed to feel sorry for Capitol Hill aides now:

Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure.

“In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.”

In the email, Ta noted that older congressional staffs may leave their jobs because of the change to their health insurance.

Yeah, I’m just not feeling the sympathy. Maybe this makes me a bad person, or something, but there you have it.

Can we mention anew that the Obama administration is playing fast and loose with the laws of its signature legislation? I think it is worth a mention myself; all those who decried the supposed imperial presidency of George W. Bush–and who believed that Barack Obama would set things right from a constitutional perspective–should be thoroughly disabused of their illusions at every opportunity. Equally fanciful is the notion that this administration is in any way “reality-based”:

Top White House and health officials feared that HealthCare.gov would not work correctly and would set off a wave of bad publicity, according to emails sent shortly before the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare enrollment website.

The emails, released Wednesday evening by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, included a picture of an error message that has become emblematic of the launch debacle. They were dated Sept. 25 — less than a week before the enrollment portal opened — and immediately created a crisis for the White House.

A White House spokesman said the emails — which use technical terms — focused on problems that could arise if there was high traffic to the site, not on a fear that the site wouldn’t work at all.

Presumably, this last paragraph is supposed to inform us that the White House didn’t have any fears that the website would not work. Yet another indication that pride goeth before the fall, I suppose.

Anyone still believe that Obamacare has turned a corner? Because the evidence would seem to suggest otherwise.

%d bloggers like this: