The problem-plagued ObamaCare website was shut down Saturday night for “extended” repairs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Technicians have shut down HealthCare.gov during weekends since the site launched Oct. 1 but just for a few overnight hours.
The site went offline this weekend from 9 p.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday.
“The HealthCare.gov tech team is performing extended maintenance this weekend to improve network infrastructure and make enhancements to the online application and enrollment tools,” agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters said Saturday.
In May 2010, two months after the Affordable Care Act squeaked through Congress, President Obama’s top economic aides were getting worried. Larry Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, and Peter Orzag, head of the Office of Management and Budget, had just received a pointed four-page memo from a trusted outside health adviser. It warned that no one in the administration was “up to the task” of overseeing the construction of an insurance exchange and other intricacies of translating the 2,000-page statute into reality…
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. “It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills.”…
[O]n the balmy Sunday evening of March 21, 2010, hours after the bill had been enacted, the president had stood on the Truman Balcony for a champagne toast with his weary staff and put them on notice: They needed to get started on carrying out the law the very next morning. It was not ready even though, for months beginning last spring, the president emphasized the exchange’s central importance during regular staff meetings to monitor progress. No matter which aspects of the sprawling law had been that day’s focus, the official said, Obama invariably ended the meeting the same way: “All of that is well and good, but if the Web site doesn’t work, nothing else matters.”…
Inside CMS, meanwhile, some staffers were aware by late 2012 that the work of building the federal exchange was lagging, according to a former HHS official — a much earlier timeline than has been previously disclosed. Some employees in the main office involved with building the exchange repeatedly warned at meetings late last year and in January that so many things were behind schedule that there would be no time for adequate “end to end” testing of how the moving parts worked together, the former HHS official said.
[I]f the administration knew the website wasn’t ready, why did they roll it out anyway? An explosive new report confirms that the decision was political. Some staffers were so desperate to persuade the President to change course that, during a September 5 demonstration of the healthcare.gov website, they “secretly rooted for it to fail so that perhaps the White House would wait to open the exchange until it was ready.”…
In the 2010 memo, Cutler complained that the Department of Health and Human Services was “far behind the curve on the key long-term reform efforts.” Don Berwick, Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “has never run a provider organization or insurance company, or dealt with Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. On basic issues…Don knows relatively little.” Senior staff at CMS has “no experience running a health care organization,” Cutler said.
Cutler also criticized the person tasked with setting up the insurance exchanges, because that person was ideologically hostile to the industry. “If you cannot find a way to work with hesitant states and insurers, reform will blow up. I have seen no indication that HHS even realizes this, let alone is acting on it.”
Hadley, a North Carolina father, buys his insurance on the individual market. His insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, directed him to HealthCare.gov in a cancellation letter he received in September.
After multiple attempts to access the problem-plagued website, Hadley finally made it past the registration page Thursday. That’s when he was greeted with downloadable letters about eligibility — for two people in South Carolina.
The letters, dated October 8, acknowledge receipt of an application to the Health Insurance Marketplace and the eligibility of family members to purchase health coverage. One of the letters was addressed to Thomas Dougall, a lawyer from Elgin, SC…
“I want my personal information off of that website,” Dougall said.
California senator Dianne Feinstein reveleated on Sunday that she told the White House, in the wake of the botched rollout of the health care exchanges, that the administration should pull down Healthcare.gov until it was functioning properly but that her advice was rejected. “They believe that they need to keep it running and that they can sort out the difficulties,” she said.
Feinstein also conceded that the president did not make clear that millions would lose their health plans as a result of the law. Though she indicated that she is murky on the details of the law, she told CBS’ Bob Schieffer that “I think that part of it, if true, was never made clear” and, with regard to an individual’s ability to keep the insurance he is, “It is really very unclear, right now, exactly what the situation is.”
Pfeiffer echoed press secretary Jay Carney’s statements that the White House expects the first month enrollment numbers will be low. ”I can promise that the first enrollment numbers, which will be released later this month, are not going to be what we wanted them to be,” Pfeiffer told This Week’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, but said the White House will be in a “good place” once that Healthcare.gov website is fixed.
A slew of media organizations have petitioned the government to release ObamaCare data that the White House has refused to make public.
CNN, ABC, MSNBC and others have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking information on the beleaguered healthcare.gov website. They have also asked for government documents revealing how many people have enrolled in the new healthcare exchanges.
Journalists have repeatedly pressed the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the enrollment data, but the administration says it won’t do so until mid-November…
It’s unlikely that these FOIA requests will be granted any time soon.
As with “Neo”, Obama’s Matrix isn’t real. In fact, it’s the definition of un-reality: an imitation embraced in order to excuse absent leadership. For many years this pretense has been papered over by the GOP’s fetish for political self-immolation. Nevertheless, the GOP doesn’t alter the foundational truth — Obama’s Matrix is a dream world divorced from courage and facts…
In the political storm that the health care debacle has reaped, the president and his staff are realizing that at a basic level, the “buck” has objective form. Slowly, they’re recognizing that the shrine of plausible deniability eventually becomes implausible. Whether in business or government, leadership is about more than positive intentions — it’s about managing the consequences of choices. As the Merovingian explains to “Neo,” “I drank too much wine; now I must (use the restroom). Cause and effect.”
The president should gaze down to the Resolute Desk at which he works. Etched in its essence is a warning — hubris portends a dangerous course. The ice is closing. If Obama wants to salvage his presidency, he must unplug himself from his Matrix of denial.
“I think that fundamental dishonesty has really put in peril the whole foundation of his second term.”