White House: Obama to enroll in ObamaCare today
posted at 11:01 am on December 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
So says Valerie Jarrett, but we’ll see. Think the exchange will stay up long enough? Maybe we should start a pool:
President Obama plans to enroll in ObamaCare on Monday, the final day for individuals to purchase insurance so they are covered by Jan. 1.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett signaled the president’s intention to purchase coverage in a phone interview with American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan. …
In recent weeks, White House press secretary Jay Carney has said that the president still planned to enroll, but refused to give details of when that could occur.
“I know that he will and has said that he will — the White House has said that he will — but I don’t have an update,” Carney told reporters earlier this month.
Asked what the president was waiting for — and whether his attempt to enroll in the exchange would be open to members of the press — Carney laughed.
“I’ll get back to you,” he said.
Will Obama bring a laptop to the White House briefing room and let reporters watch him as he successfully enrolls in his own health-care program? Don’t hold your breath … and the President shouldn’t hold his, either. He might need it for when he calls into the help line and has to explain his situation a few times, and then gets assistance in filling out a paper form. Can he use an autopen for that?
This might be tougher than you’d think. Barack Obama will have to enroll through DC Health Link, and that exchange is separate from Healthcare.gov. (If he uses his Chicago home as his residence, he’d use the separate Illinois exchange.) The DC exchange has been so problematic that Congress had to issue an extension to its own staffers two weeks ago. Our friend and current Ted Cruz speechwriter Amanda Carpenter provided a colorful account of her own travails on the exchange before finding out that it would be another month before it could be relied upon to work properly.
He’s not going to be alone, either. Today’s Deadline Day for everyone, and CBS says that Obama’s administration is “scrambling” to avoid another embarrassing collapse:
Efforts range from the practical – a big message on HealthCare.gov that tells people they should enroll by Monday to ensure their coverage starts on time – to the creative: the District of Columbia government dispatched someone from its health exchange, DC Health Link, to one of the city’s gay clubs to sign people up.
After the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges, which led to very low enrollment numbers in the first month, the administration has been actively seeking ways to ease the sign-up process ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline (people will be able to enroll in the federal exchanges until March 31 to avoid paying a penalty). On Friday, President Obama announced that 1 million people have enrolled for insurance so far – a huge jump from the end of November, when just 365,000 had signed up, but still far short of the administration’s initial target of 3.3 million enrollees by the end of the year.
How confident is the administration of success today? This confident:
Then, on Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to a group of senators saying she will issue a “hardship exemption” from tax penalties for people whose plans were cancelled but were not able to purchase new insurance by the deadline.
They’ll find a way to declare victory no matter what, of course. Getting back to President Obama, he won’t have to worry about his own health care no matter what happens, as Jim Geraghty explains:
This is actually not necessary for the president, as “the President, while in office, has access to treatment by military hospitals and doctors as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. His family, as his dependents, also shares in this benefit. In the past, when Presidents have been sick or injured in office, they have almost always been treated at military hospital establishments. The cost of this treatment is borne by the taxpayers as part of the military budget appropriated by Congress.” As a federal employee, the president has a choice of about ten family plans, but it’s not clear how much, if any, President Obama pays out of pocket: The Los Angeles Times: “The White House medical unit, with a staff of four doctors plus nurses and physicians’ assistants, is steps from his office. Treatment is free for Obama and his family (as well as for the vice president and his family).”
When he leaves office, he’ll get a $200,000 annual pension, from which he can purchase the same coverage from the same choices as other federal employees have. Suffice it to say that his experience today will be much different from all others who are racing to beat a deadline on a system that doesn’t work.
Update (Allahpundit): He and his team have spent three months begging people to enroll ASAP, and … he waits until deadline day to do it himself? What?
Update (Ed, 11:15 am ET): He won’t be using Healthcare.gov … and neither will others trying to get in right now, either: