For the three weeks of the ObamaCare exchange rollout debacle, the White House has tried to claim that the issues relate to the overwhelming popularity and web traffic at Heathcare.gov. As late as yesterday, Barack Obama himself claimed that “the number of people who’ve visited the site has been overwhelming, which has aggravated some of these underlying problems,” in a speech that mentioned no other causes to the failure. Last night, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Health and Human Services tested the system just before launch with just a few hundred concurrent connections — and experienced the same failures we’ve seen since:
Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.
Despite the failed test, federal health officials plowed ahead.
When the Web site went live Oct. 1, it locked up shortly after midnight as about 2,000 users attempted to complete the first step, according to two people familiar with the project.
As new details emerged about early warning signs of serious deficiencies in HealthCare.gov, Obama on Monday gave a consumer-friendly defense of the health-care law, insisting that the problems many Americans have faced in trying to enroll in insurance plans will be fixed quickly.
Nor was that the only red flag for HHS before the October 1 launch date. An earlier dry run with insurers had them asking for a delay, or at least a staged rollout:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency in charge of running the health insurance exchange in 36 states, invited about 10 insurers to give advice and help test the Web site.
About a month before the exchange opened, this testing group urged agency officials not to launch it nationwide because it was still riddled with problems, according to an insurance IT executive who was close to the rollout.
“We discussed . . . is there a way to do a pilot — by state, by geographic region?” the executive said.
Amazingly, HHS didn’t test the consumer end of the piece from start to finish until September 26th, just five days before the exchange opened. Obama yesterday claimed that private-sector firms with expertise in web portals were now consulting on the fiasco, but HHS had that opportunity in August and September, when private-sector insurers tried to tell the Obama administration to delay the rollout. They chose not to listen, and now act surprised when the system failed.
The story proves that the White House has spun a false narrative about the failures, an abjectly political spin that wants to take credit for demand on a site they made mandatory for tax compliance. The failures exist even under the lightest traffic, which means it has nothing to do with traffic at all — as anyone with even a passing familiarity with web portals figured out on Day 1. Even yesterday, Obama held a pep rally to continue blowing smoke up the skirts of Americans rather than do something significant to protect Americans from the disaster.
Howard Kurtz says the dishonesty has the media changing course on ObamaCare:
Mark Halperin, the “Game Change” coauthor and a regular on [Morning Joe], called the rollout “unacceptable” and added that “the secrecy is unacceptable,” accusing the administration of withholding information about how many people have signed up.
His fellow panelist, liberal commentator Mike Barnicle, ratcheted up from there: “They’re lying about it now,” he said. “They’re not depriving us of information, they are outright lying.” The former Boston Globe columnist called the administration’s conduct “unacceptable.”
On “CBS This Morning,” the network’s political director, John Dickerson, calls the rollout “a total fiasco,” saying the administration is getting into a “credibility death spiral.” …
As liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein tweeted in mid-address, “So far, this seems weirdly similar to the speech Obama would’ve given if the exchanges were working fine.”
But they’re not working fine, and White House reporters pressed Jay Carney aggressively about what the president knew, when he knew it and whether the administration owes the country an apology. (During the shutdown, you’ll recall, the press corps didn’t ask the president a single ObamaCare question at a news conference.)
This disaster is entirely self-inflicted, and could be seen coming for months — by the administration itself. The lack of honesty on this raises lots of questions about the administration’s other narratives. We’ll see if the media figures that out.