I suppose it's a good first step, for Obama to directly acknowledge there are "kinks" in Obamaware, but in an infomercial? I was almost expecting him to say, "Call our number in the next ten minutes and you'll get a set of knives! Just pay shipping and handling. Operators are standing by!" Or, "If you get all the way through Obamaware, you can save 15% or more on health insurance. Everybody knows that." Obama the insurance salesman. I won't even get into the falsehoods, but when Obama says "the product is good", Obamaware is a product of Obamacare, and Obamaware ain't good. Obama had a chance to have an honest conversation with America and he chose spinny, happytalk instead. What a pathetic president.
Obama sugarcoated the problem while saying he wasn't sugarcoating it. Calling the influx of programmers a "tech surge" is questionable, given how his previous surge came out. Also a touchy subject is the phrase "the best and the brightest". Also questionable was Obama's use of thirteen political props, only two whom actually bought health insurance through Obamaware (EDIT: And one of whom is a Democratic Party operative). The call-center number that Obama touted is also sketchy, considering that operators have to access the same untested, unworkable system that applicants tried to use. The latest from the New York Times is more sobering.
Administration officials approached the contractors last week to see if they could perform the necessary repairs and reboot the system by Nov. 1. However, that goal struck many contractors as unrealistic, at least for major components of the system. Some specialists working on the project said the online system required such extensive repairs that it might not operate smoothly until after the Dec. 15 deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting in January, although that view is not universally shared.
In interviews, experts said the technological problems of the site went far beyond the roadblocks to creating accounts that continue to prevent legions of users from even registering. Indeed, several said, the login problems, though vexing to consumers, may be the easiest to solve. One specialist said that as many as five million lines of software code may need to be rewritten before the Web site runs properly.
“The account creation and registration problems are masking the problems that will happen later,” said one person involved in the repair effort.
Ron Fournier is similarly sobering:
It's worse than his team has let on. The White House has tried to position the failed first days of Obamacare as mere hiccups caused by the site's popularity. Obama called them "kinks." An administration spokesman told the Washington Post on Sunday that the "main driver of the problem is volume." This is intentionally misleading.
The White House has heard complaints from insurance companies, consumers, and health policy experts about issues embedded deeply in the online system. For example: inaccurate information provided to people about federal tax credits; low-income people erroneously told they don't qualify for Medicaid; and insurance companies getting confusing information about who has signed up.
The administration refuses to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange, the key metric for determining how well the online service is working in states that didn't set up their own exchanges. There are two possible explanations for the Obama administration's unconscionable lack of transparency. Their process is so screwed up that they don't have the data, which would be embarrassing. Or they have the data – and it's embarrassing.
And that's just one of the five reasons why Obama should be concerned about his s**tty software.
The problems with Healthcare.gov are a big, substantive problem for the Affordable Care Act and the president needs to explain to Americans when and how they will be fixed so his law can work as intended.
Obama did not do that today. He was too busy being Willy Loman. Barro points out three problems:
Also, if you have an individual plan, you probably won't get to keep it.
Mike Barnicle: "They're lying about it."
Walter Russell Mead brings up the specter of adverse selection. I'm not optimistic, not with the way it's going so far. Anyway, nothing I've seen so far makes me think this is anything other than a...
UPDATE 1: How much time does this "tech surge" have before there's a really big problem? About three weeks. And get this. The Einsteins at HHS ran a test on the eve of the rollout involving a few hundred, and it crashed and burned, yet they still rolled it out anyway. What were they thinking? We can't know because no one is talking. I guess those leak investigations are paying off. Jon Stewart...
The good news is that if you can't get online and if you run into brick wall with the call center, there's Plan C.
Responding to widespread criticism regarding its health care website, the federal government today unveiled its new, improved Obamacare program, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance after installing a software bundle contained on 35 floppy disks. “I have heard the complaints about the existing website, and I can assure you that with this revised system, finding the right health care option for you and your family is as easy as loading 35 floppy disks sequentially into your disk drive and following the onscreen prompts,” President Obama told reporters this morning, explaining that the nearly three dozen 3.5-inch diskettes contain all the data needed for individuals to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while noting that the updated Obamacare software is mouse-compatible and requires a 386 Pentium processor with at least 8 MB of system RAM to function properly. “Just fire up MS-DOS, enter ‘A:\>dir *.exe’ into the command line, and then follow the instructions to install the Obamacare batch files—it should only take four or five hours at the most. You can press F1 for help if you run into any problems. And be sure your monitor’s screen resolution is at 320 x 200 or it might not display properly.” Obama added that the federal government hopes to have a six–CD-ROM version of the program available by 2016.
UPDATE 2: Fingers are pointing, both at the software contractors and at HHS for it managerial shortcomings. I think there's plenty of blame to go around, but bottom line, the buck stops at Barry for the people he put in charge of this fiasco. The common thread through it all is incompetence.
How long will this fiasco last? it probably won't get fixed in three weeks, which is a pivotal date. At VentureBeat, Christina Farr is saying "it's not going to happen" (but there might be some private-sector vendors to fill the gaps), and the bunker mentality is full on, which can only make the situation worse.
While Washington State and Kentucky are doing well, Vermont sucks.
And in Obamaworld, an "easy to use" website means that it takes three days to get enrolled in a health plan. If I were a liberal, I'd be doing this...