"Saturday Night Live" confirms: Healthcare.gov now a national punchline

Not-so-fun fact: Hours before this SNL skit aired on Saturday night, Sebelius posted something to the HHS blog touting the fact that at least one part of the website was running like a dream. That would be the “data hub,” which is designed to cross-check an applicant’s information with databases at other federal agencies like the IRS to ensure that the information they’ve provided is correct. Somehow, at least one small piece of this Rube Goldberg contraption was operating correctly.

You know where this is going.

A data center critical for allowing uninsured Americans to buy health coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law went down on Sunday, the U.S. government said, in the latest problem for the “Obamacare” rollout.

Verizon’s Terremark operates the data center behind a federal system for determining eligibility for government subsidies to buy insurance nationwide and hosts HealthCare.gov, the website that makes insurance available in 36 of the 50 states…

Peters said the newest glitch also affected a data services hub – an electronic traffic roundabout that connects numerous federal agencies and can verify people’s identity, citizenship, and other facts.

Problems with the data services hub affect customers of both HealthCare.gov and the state-run exchanges. State exchanges had been running smoothly.

I feel like we’re in an odd place right now in covering the website. No doubt, it’s a hugely important story and will become even more important a month from now if they still haven’t ironed things out. There are still fascinating wrinkles to it that are being explored by the media; take, for instance, this new WSJ piece about the wholly unsurprising bureaucratic clusterfark that helped reduce the site to the pitiful state it’s in. My favorite detail: HHS previewed the site for White House officials this summer with a demonstration version — i.e. just the user interface part, not the whole back-end system designed to coordinate between federal agencies and insurance companies. That’s S.O.P. for most projects in the tech industry, apparently, but most tech projects don’t have a president’s credibility riding on them. For all the blather over Obama being an upgrade over his “incurious” predecessor, he sure did seem incurious about whether his pet project would be ready to roll on launch day.

But as irresistible as a tale of Hopenchange technological hubris meeting its nemesis is, it’s less important politically than the realization that’s dawning on hundreds of thousands of people right now that ObamaCare is designed to make them pay more for health insurance. If you’re middle class and you’re healthy, your premium hike is a giveaway to insurers to help them pay for coverage of the sick. Long after the website is fixed and the “adverse selection” problem solved (or mitigated), that fact will persist. ObamaCare was, is, and always has been a type of health-care welfare program with insurance companies as the middle man — but of course, that’s not how it was sold. And the big mystery right now, even bigger than what The One was busy doing this year instead of riding herd on HHS to make sure his ObamaCare website showpiece worked as intended, was what he was thinking in lying brazenly for years that people could keep their plans if they liked them. I thought about that all weekend and still can’t figure it out. Lord knows, I don’t put lying past him — but that lie was so high-profile, and so clearly destined to be exposed as a lie, that I can’t imagine what he thought would be gained by it. All it can do now is damage him and his party, severely. Which makes me wonder: Did he somehow think that people would keep their plans if they liked them? If he did, why did he think so? I realize that this boondoggle started off as a mindless applause line in a campaign speech, but at some point along the way he knew, or should have known, that forcing middle-class people to buy more comprehensive coverage was going to more expensive coverage too. When was that point?

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David Strom 5:21 PM on June 02, 2023