White House Guides Down Obamacare Enrollment Target, Says To Focus On Demographics; Refuses To Give Demographic Data
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2014 20:13 -0500
As we reported previously, currently the biggest problem facing Obamacare is the sudden "realization" by as many as half of any given state's enrollees, that in addition to signing up for Obamacare, one also has to make a payment which is rapidly becoming a dealbreaker for many, and leading to total confusion at the doctor's office. However, even if one were to assume that payment is not a major hurdle (after all funding for a subsidized ponzi scheme can always be... further subsidized), there are various other key issues that still remain. Such as the administration's repeatedly stated target of 7 million enrollees by the end of March. Actually wait, it may have been 7 million once upon a time, as in the days before the Healthcare.gov rollout became an unmitigated disaster, but suddenly that bogey no longer exists.
Enter revisionist history:
“That was never our target number. That was a target that came from the Congressional Budget Office, and it has become an accepted number. There’s no magic to the 7 million. What there is magic to is that in the month of December a million Americans signed up for insurance.”
– White House aide Phil Schiliro, interview on MSNBC, Dec. 31, 2013
Guiding lower? Happens all the time on Wall Street so it was only a matter of time before D.C. started as well. Watch:
The key points from the Jay Carney:
"We're not backing away from a number that we didn't put out originally.... "I think that others noted that 7 million is a fine target, but that that will not determine whether the marketplaces function effectively.... It's important to understand that it is not — that there's not some magic number: 6,999,999 and the system collapses; one more than that and it functions perfectly."
At this point it is worth remembering just how fudged the very definition of "enrolled" is: The White House counts “an enrollee” as anyone who has selected a qualified health plan. “Once someone clicks "enroll" and selects a plan, we consider them enrolled,” a senior White House official said. "We don’t know if they have paid or when they pay the company because it’s a private transaction between the company and the consumer." And as we explained before, up to 50% of "enrollees" haven't actually enrolled by making any payments.
So to summarize: the White House crowed about the 2.1 million Americans who have signed up for insurance either through the federal health-care exchange or state-run exchanges (even if the payment status is unclear). At the same time, Obama's henchmen backed away from the idea that they had suggested a "target" of 7 million enrollees when the enrollment period for 2014 ends in March. As Schiliro put it, "that was never our target number"... even though it was consistently framed, implied and suggested as precisely that.
The question then is: did someone lie? For the answer, we go to the authoritarian source on massaging spin when it comes to the administration: The Bezos Washington Post. Here is what D.C. favorite newspaper had to say:
The 7 million figure did originate asan estimate (not a target) by the CBO. Before HealthCare.gov launched, senior administration officials certainly embraced the number.Here’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking to reporters last June: “We’re hopeful that 7 million is a realistic target.”And here she is on Sept. 30, in an interview with NBC News: “I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”Moreover, on Sept. 5, 2013, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sent Sebelius a memo titled, “Projected Monthly Enrollment Targets for Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014.”The memo offered an estimate of 7,066,000, drawing both on CBO’s estimate and the experience of the universal health plan in Massachusetts, Medicare Part D “and conversations with employers, issuers and states.” It projected that enrollment would be 3.3 million by the end of December.The 7 million figure, apparently, became less relevant as “a target” or a measure of success when it became clear that the Web site’s problems were making it difficult for people to sign up.Instead, officials have argued that a more relevant figure is the mix of young and old people. That’s because younger people tend to be healthier and thus have lower medical expenses; if only older people sign up, premiums would soar.
Whether or not the administration originally came up with the 7 million figure, officials certainly embraced it as a target in the months leading up to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We agree that the mix of young and old enrollees is perhaps the more relevant number, but it’s a bit odd at this point for the administration to minimize the 7 million figure.
Ok, so they lied. But if the mix of enrollees, however one defines them, is skewed toward the younger population, all should be forgiven right? Sure. However, there is a tiny problem:the administration refuses to give away the demographic split data! From The Hill:
The White House said Monday that it was still unable to provide the demographic data is describes as a "key element" to evaluating the overall success of ObamaCare.White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted on Monday that "at this point" the administration did not have information about the makeup of early enrollees in the president's signature legislative program.But the White House spokesman also pledged to make the data "available as soon as possible.""If you look at how we've dealt with data as it's become available over the past several months, both good data and bad data, we've done our best to provide it to you when we are confident about the accuracy of it," Carney said.Healthcare experts have warned of a "death spiral" if not enough young, healthy adults buy into the ObamaCare marketplace to offset the cost of insuring older and sick Americans. A study report by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 4 of 10 enrollees would need to be between 18 and 34 years old to prevent a rise in premiums in subsequent years.
So: first the lies about the definition of enrollment, then the lies about how many actually have insurance, i.e., have paid and are officially enrolled, then the realization that the schedule is hopeless off track and and the need to guide down, but only after misdirection pointing at "good data"... which just so happens does not exist.
Oh, and something about a "death spiral" if not enough young, healthy... oh wait, look over there: the market is at all time highs (or just below them).
We truly wonder: how much longer will this patented and indefinitely repeated distraction scheme, aimed at the absolutely lowest common denominator, continue to work without a glitch?
Maryland Congressman: So, is it too late to switch over to the federal exchange website?
POSTED AT 5:21 PM ON JANUARY 6, 2014 BY ERIKA JOHNSEN
Governor Martin O’Malley finally declared their much-vaunted exchange “not glitch-free but functional for most users” in the middle of December, and yet the state’s enrollment is still lagging way behind both other states and their own goals with only 18,250 residents having signed up for health insurance as of the end of last month while reports of prohibitive website errors still abound. I have no idea how even just temporarily hitching a ride on the also highly imperfect federal exchange until their own site is out of the woods would work administratively (and indeed, Maryland officials still seem to be working on figuring that out), but it sounds like they are genuinely considering the idea — which I’m guessing means they know they still have major website problems, with no definitive end in sight. Via the AP:
Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat, formally asked the state’s health secretary for a specific assessment of the idea of switching to the federal health exchange while Maryland’s exchange is being repaired. He wrote in a letter to Dr. Joshua Sharfstein that Maryland could make the switch in whole or in part or on a temporary basis.Delaney cited recently released data from the White House that indicated 2.1 million people have signed up for private insurance nationally, including more than 1 million through the federal marketplace. The congressman compared that to 18,257 Maryland residents who have been able to enroll, which is 12 percent of the state’s goal of 150,000.“We have fallen quite far behind the national average and we’re running out of time,” Delaney wrote, adding that he has heard from frustrated and concerned residents throughout his district, which stretches from Garrett County in western Maryland and includes a significant portion of Montgomery County near the nation’s capital.On Friday, Gov. Martin O’Malley said he would keep the idea of moving to the federal exchange or partnering with other states under consideration.
And that wasn’t the only criticism coming their way, with a potential O’Malley successor throwing in his two cents on the irresponsible manner in which Maryland is currently directing their resources, via WaPo:
A leading Republican candidate for Maryland governor wants the state to stop spending millions of dollars marketing and promoting its problem-plagued health insurance marketplace and instead point residents directly to private insurance carriers and other options.Harford County Executive David R. Craig (R) released a plan on Monday that calls on the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to divert money away from promoting the state’s health exchange and toward a “public awareness campaign informing consumers of their right to obtain health insurance directly through carriers.”“Up to $150 million dollars is going towards promoting a failing exchange, and throwing good money after bad needs to end now,” Craig said in a statement. “The administration must realize that their intended solutions are only causing more problems, creating mass confusion, ruining credibility in government and harming our quality of life.”
Things just get worse and worse for what was once supposed to be a model of ObamaCare excellence.