HHS’s new, inspiring Obamacare message: Be assured, we are on schedule

posted at 8:01 pm on July 15, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Indeed, “On Schedule” appears to be the rousing tag line of a new advertising strategy. Sarah Kliff, the Washington Post‘s reporter on Obamacare implementation, who is somewhat more favorably disposed to it than I, nonetheless calls this newly released video from Health and Human Services what it is: “From the department of lowered Obamacare expectations: This video.”

Health and Human Services tweeted some exciting news this morning: the health-care law is on schedule! And the agency has a video to prove it[.]

Notably absent from the video is any mention of the employer mandate and small business health exchange, both of which have not moved ahead on schedule.

This isn’t the most rah-rah of political messages; on-time doesn’t necessarily suggest hope and change. It’s not a video that would even get produced if everyone expected that the law would roll out on time.

The video bullet points some of the alleged progress along the way to Obamacare’s full implementation, including hilariously a “new, simpler health insurance application,” which was just a necessary replacement for the terrible, complicated one HHS first created. The list also includes a central web portal for assistance for a federal exchange that doesn’t yet exist, so hard to know if that works as envisioned, and $150 million in grants for outreach, with more in the pipeline. Sending money out the door on schedule does not, of course, mean that money will accomplish what it’s meant to accomplish. As Kliff notes, the employer mandate, small business exchange, and verification glitches go unmentioned, so Health and Human Services is proclaiming they’re on schedule with the elements of the law that aren’t the ones that aren’t on schedule. And, they’re going to be on schedule with the exchanges, they swear. They’ll be “open for enrollment,” which is a pretty low bar, too.

One of the things that could have helped the government with its technological heavy lift in launching all these exchanges— a Travelocity for health care, as they touted it—would have been partnering with private companies that already specialize in selling insurance online. They’ve been doing it for years, and have a vested interest in helping Obamacare enroll the uninsured because it means more business for them. That won’t be happening:

Less than 90 days before Obamacare’s government-run health exchanges are due to open up shop, Web insurers are still being locked out of helping sign up uninsured individuals—a lag that threatens to depress enrollments, and jack up insurance rates, experts tell CNBC.

Those experts warned that if dozens of Web-based markets—which already sell insurance online—continue to be shut out of partnering with government exchanges, it could lead to 1 million or more people failing to sign up for insurance under Obamacare.

And, they cautioned, the delay may signal that some of the exchanges won’t be ready for business by the official Oct. 1 target date.

One of the CEOs of these companies, who was a supporter of the bill (as mentioned above, forcing people to buy insurance is potentially very profitable for his company):

“I’m just totally mystified, puzzled, flummoxed as to why the administration isn’t using somebody like me to help,” said eHealth CEO Gary Lauer, whose company is a leading industry player among a dozen or more Web-based markets that have sought to partner with various government exchanges.

Lauer noted that he had been an enthusiastic supporter of the new health law championed by President Barack Obama. But the stone-walling, foot-dragging and other inexplicable hurdles that he says his company has faced in offering subsidized insurance under that law has made him increasingly skeptical of the plan.

“I’m still a supporter of the legislation, I’m dubious of its chances for success,” Lauer said.

We’re all skeptics now, it seems. California’s and New York’s exchanges have both said they won’t be working in partnership with private companies, not necessarily because they don’t want to, but because they’re just not technologically capable of it:

New York State revealed to CNBC on Friday that it has also decided, for now, not to allow the Web-based entities to partner with its exchange. “For the 2014 enrollment process, it’s not feasible to include the Web brokers,” said New York Exchange spokesman Bill Schwarz.

He cited logistical hurdles including ensuring Web marketplaces offer all of the plans available on the state exchange, and creating the technical interface between the exchange and Web sites.

Schwarz—who noted the “tight deadline” to open the exchange—said New York will continue considering whether to use Web marketplaces in coming years.

Private companies, who actually know how much work it takes to be an online health insurance vendor for millions of Americans think the inability to partner with them may be the technological canary in the coal mine:

Cohen, the Liazon executive, said, “I think this is an indicator, a leading indicator, of the exchanges lack of readiness to do the things they actually need to do.”

“Their ambiguity on Web-based entities is probably an indication that the don’t have their act together, so to speak, and they’re probably thinking they’ve got bigger issues than this, and that’s kind of scary, no?” Cohen said.

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Chocolate ration delivery is on schedule citizen.

This government (so called) needs to be shut down

Skywise on July 15, 2013 at 8:05 PM

They might want to tell Obama, so he can lift that unconstitutional one-year extension on imposing the employer mandate.

Liam on July 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM

HHS’s new, inspiring Obamacare message: Be assured, we are on schedule

I can vouch for that…
My insurance has risen 30% since 2010…

Can’t wait to see what’s next…

Electrongod on July 15, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Like people are excited about paying thousands upon thousands of dollars for crappy insurance.

I know I can’t possibly afford it.

Dack Thrombosis on July 15, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Anyone can fact check this for accuracy.

The Medicare Set Aside Act was enacted during the Reagan era. It took almost 30 years to implement. It is STILL a fiasco.

Google: MSA’s and impact on the insurance industry.

And now, we have the Worlds Most Famous Community Agitator implementing the implosion of American’s Health Care System. Can we just get rid of this guy? No?

Oh well, carry on.

Key West Reader on July 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM

HHS’s new, inspiring Obamacare message: Be assured, we are on schedule

…well then… it must be your period that’s late!

KOOLAID2 on July 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM

…uh, except for the Employer Mandate part…

Axeman on July 15, 2013 at 8:19 PM

From above post:

“I’m just totally mystified, puzzled, flummoxed as to why the administration isn’t using somebody like me to help,” said eHealth CEO Gary Laue (supporter of Obamacare)

Hey, you made a deal alright, & I’m so glad you trusted the administration to hold up their end of the bargain. See all the profiteering health care dollars slipping away from you? Good. Do you think for 1 minute that these progressives wanted the exchanges to succeed? If you did, well, too bad.

It was all about securing a single payer system & bankrupting the private insurance industry; & that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Belle on July 15, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport shares that 52% of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, up slightly from 45% in November 2012.

CW on July 15, 2013 at 8:25 PM

I’m sitting in an emergency room right now. I cannot begin to imagine what it will be like fully under Obamacare.

joekenha on July 15, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Too bad Traaaaaayvon will never get care!!! Or something

SouthernGent on July 15, 2013 at 8:26 PM

joekenha on July 15, 2013 at 8:25 PM

I sincerely hope that you or whom ever is being well cared for and that this isn’t somthing life-threatening…

God Bless you and be well…

Scrumpy on July 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

“I’m still a supporter of the legislation, I’m dubious of its chances for success,” Lauer said.

“Capitalists” lie this guy disgust me. He doesn’t give a damn how horrible this bill is, how offensive it is to the Constitution, or how much it centralizes more power in DC as long he gets a cut of the action.

Crony capitalism is a treat to individual liberty.

Charlemagne on July 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM

I have no doubt that the IRS enforcement is right on schedule, the rest of it not so much.

jukin3 on July 15, 2013 at 8:41 PM

HHS’s new, inspiring Obamacare message: Be assured, we are on schedule

…………for MASSIVE failure.

Finished the sentence for them.

GarandFan on July 15, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport shares that 52% of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, up slightly from 45% in November 2012.

Math be hard.

(52-45)/45=16% I think that is more than slightly.

jukin3 on July 15, 2013 at 8:45 PM

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

You know what HHS needs to do? Start up a sub-department of “Truth” that can rapidly react to any message that gets out contradicting the success of ObamaCare. If messaging fails, arrests might be necessary. For the public good, you understand.

MTF on July 15, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Someone had to link it ….

BD57 on July 15, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Why stop lying now . . . it’s worked so well from the beginning.

rplat on July 15, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Yep, the flaming train wreck will occur- on schedule.
The Titanic was going to arrive AHEAD of schedule, if I recall.

michaelo on July 15, 2013 at 9:01 PM

As long as the Street Agitation Department is ready it should be a smooth transition.

stout77 on July 15, 2013 at 9:05 PM

The joke’s on us. Not much else I can say.

Philly on July 15, 2013 at 9:10 PM

As a baby step, I’m sure they are on schedule. It’s later when those big steps come that concerns me.

rickv404 on July 15, 2013 at 9:20 PM

As Kliff notes…

I see what you did there, MK. Now we know how you got through English Lit.

IrishEi on July 15, 2013 at 9:30 PM

All the impending fraud can commence on schedule!

lynncgb on July 15, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Mussolini made the trains run on time, too.

Look how well that turned out for everyone.

Phoenix7 on July 15, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Lying sacks of crap as usual.

Mason on July 15, 2013 at 11:53 PM

Health Insurance Exchanges: Coming October 1 to a Porta-Potty near you.

Ex-Lax is extra.

Steve Z on July 15, 2013 at 11:58 PM

If you have to say you’re on schedule, you’re not.

LtGenRob on July 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Now see!? That’s all the borg really needed! Was universal p.r.
Fact Before assimilation too many people were not connected to the collective.
Catchy tune. Lot less creepy.

onomo on July 16, 2013 at 7:23 AM

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Chris of Rights on July 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM