The rollout of the healthcare exchanges have been considered a miserable failure by all except perhaps the most die hard liberal supporters. President Barack Obama gave remarks trying to alleviate concern about the rollout.
He first addressed the 85% of Americans who currently have coverage:
For the vast majority of Americans — for 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance through your employer or Medicare or Medicaid -– you don’t need to sign up for coverage through a website at all. You’ve already got coverage. What the Affordable Care Act does for you is to provide you with new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time. You may not know it, but you’re already benefiting from these provisions in the law.
Unfortunately that’s just not true. Kaiser Health News reports that thousands of Americans received cancellation notices due to the health care law change.
The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few are cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions…
…But the cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them.
“I don’t feel like I need to change, but I have to,” said Jeff Learned, a television editor in Los Angeles, who must find a new plan for his teenage daughter, who has a health condition that has required multiple surgeries.
Republicans paint President Obama’s statement that “you can keep your plans if you like them” as his single biggest lie.
Senator Ted Cruz pointed out in a statement earlier that Obamacare’s failings extend beyond the website. “We already know Obamacare can’t live up to its promises. President Obama promised Americans that their premiums would go down, taxes would stay low, millions of jobs would be created, and if they liked their healthcare plans, they could keep them. Instead, premiums are rising, taxes are higher, the economy is sputtering, and people are losing their plans,” Cruz said.
“Obamacare is the nation’s biggest job killer and stands in the way of our country’s economic growth and prosperity. It should be defunded and repealed. President Obama should hear the pleas from the untold number of Americans who are losing their jobs, wages, and healthcare plans, and Congress should act immediately to stop Obamacare from inflicting any more damage on the country on our hard-working citizens,” he added.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus was unimpressed as well.
“ObamaCare is collapsing under its own weight, and a Rose Garden speech isn’t going to fix it,” Priebus said. “The Obama Administration had over three years to build Healthcare.gov, and they produced a non-functioning website. Do they really expect Americans to believe that a ‘tech surge’ can rebuild it in a few days or weeks? ‘Tech surge’ is just code for ‘spending surge,’ and will waste hundreds of millions of unbudgeted taxpayer dollars.”
Priebus renewed his earlier call for the firing of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “We’re not dealing with a few random glitches. We’re dealing with a fundamental breakdown in leadership. Someone should be held accountable, and while I continue to call for an end to the train wreck of ObamaCare, I also suggest that President Obama fire HHS Secretary Sebelius. If HHS were a private company, she would have been gone two weeks ago,” he said.
President Obama discussed changes that are taking place on the website:
Yesterday, we updated the website’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody. So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.
We’ve also added more staff to the call centers where you can apply for insurance over the phone. Those are already — they’ve been working. But a lot of people have decided first to go to the website. But keep in mind, these call centers are already up and running. And you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day, in 150 different languages. The phone number for these call centers is 1-800-318-2596. I want to repeat that — 1-800-318-2596. Wait times have averaged less than one minute so far on the call centers, although I admit that the wait times probably might go up a little bit now that I’ve read the number out loud on national television.
Preibus was unimpressed by the changes. “The federal bureaucracy has proven itself too slow, too bloated, too incompetent, and too outdated to manage America’s health care. This morning, HHS added a new button on Healthcare.gov that would start directing visitors to sign up for insurance over the phone. Yes, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a website, the government’s solution is to act like we’re living in the 1980s,” he said.
Twitter users were unimpressed with the President’s infomercial. The tweet below summarized the aftermath of the President’s infomercial… apparently operators were not standing by.
Obama tells everyone to use the 1-800 number for #ACA in meantime. Phone tells callers to go to broken website. Call center down. #EPICFAIL
— Corey Clayton (@CoreyClayton) October 21, 2013
As far as the people providing President Obama’s backdrop only three have been registered for Obamacare. Byron York pointed out that the White House was extending the definition of what it means to be an Obamacare success story:
For example, a Pennsylvania man named Malik Hassan was in the group, and this is the White House description of his situation, in full: “Malik Hassan works at a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hassan, who does not receive coverage through his employer, is looking forward to enrolling for health coverage this fall. He recently used Healthcare.gov. to process his application and is waiting for the options for potential plans in Philadelphia.”
So, Hassan is employed, not covered, and has not yet succeeded in finding coverage through Obamacare. That is, in the White House’s estimation, an Obamacare success story.
Then there is Nathaniel Hojnacki, who recently finished his schooling. Here is the White House description of his situation, again in full: “Nathaniel Hojnacki recently received his Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University SAIS and is in an employment situation without benefits. Hojnacki recognizes the importance of coverage and is planning to enroll after he explores his coverage options on the DC exchange.”
So, Hojnacki has a job, does not have coverage, and is planning to explore finding coverage through Obamacare. Another success story.
Then there is LaJuanna Russell, of Virginia. Here is the White House description of her situation, in its entirety: “LaJuanna Russell is the owner of Business Management Associates, a consulting company in Alexandria, Virginia. Russell says she is proud to offer her employees health insurance but that it can be difficult for a small business. Russell believes that the ACA provides stability for her and her employees and is exploring what new coverage options will be available to her company under the exchanges.”
So, Russell owns a business, has employees, and believes Obamacare might help her in the future. Another success story.
Wow. Maybe Obamacare will actually help the woman standing behind President Obama who nearly passed out. 56% of Americans in a poll released today say they believe that the failed rollout is a sign of broader problems with the law. It’s unlikely that a speech and a 1-800 number will do little to alleviate those concerns. The White House wouldn’t say if the website would be fixed by March, but rest assured. The phone number will be working by that time.