Kathleen Sebelius came to Pittsburgh yesterday to team up with Steelers chairman Dan Rooney to promote the newly launched ObamaCare exchanges. Maybe she should have tried the Denver Broncos. The promotion flopped as badly as the Steelers in their first four weeks of the season, thanks to the $634 million website that can’t make a play:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had a front-row view of the problems plaguing the website that the government established to allow people to shop for health insurance under Obamacare.
Sebelius and Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney were at an enrollment and education event on Thursday at Heinz Field to promote Healthcare.gov, but people who showed up encountered problems in signing up for coverage on the website. …
“Believe me, we had some early glitches,” said Sebelius, who was introduced by Rooney, a backer of the law. “But it’s getting better every day.”
At the back of the room, it was a different story. About 20 people armed with laptops and certified by the government to sign up people for coverage were meeting with uninsured people, answering questions and fruitlessly trying to access the website.
LaKesha Lowry, 41, came to the event to find out about her health insurance options. But the North Side resident said she was not able to access the site, even with the help of a certified application counselor.
“It said, ‘Try again later,’ ” Lowry said.
Sebelius tried blaming Heinz Field, which probably didn’t make Rooney happy but might give Steelers fans another excuse for the 2013 season:
Asked about the ongoing problems with the website and the fact that people at a government enrollment event couldn’t sign up, Sebelius told reporters that she didn’t know what problems were affecting service at Heinz Field. The government has made hardware and software upgrades to improve the site, she said, and it is working for many people.
Define “many.” So far, they’ve managed to sign up as many subscribers for insurance in a little over a week as the average daily traffic of an upper-level independent blog. They’ve managed to handle 13 million hits in nine days, according to Sebelius’ comments in Pittsburgh, which works out to our daily traffic level in October 2012, and we weren’t tossing out a bunch of 404s at the time. Oh, and one other thing — we weren’t imposing a mandate on all Americans to read us or pay a fine through the IRS, so bragging about traffic levels is more than just a little dishonest.
Here’s a pro-tip for Sebelius: Don’t do on-site signup events until the site can handle them, and don’t blame your host for your own website’s incompetent engineering. Even the Steelers aren’t going to cotton to being that much of a doormat.