Sharyl Attkisson strikes again. Friendly reminder: According to an administration memo sent to Sebelius on September 5, the target number for sign-ups in October alone was 494,620 or just shy of 16,000 a day. And October was expected to be a “slow month.”
Early enrollment figures are contained in notes from twice-a-day “war room” meetings convened within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the website failed on Oct. 1. They were turned over in response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee.
The website launched on a Tuesday. Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say “six enrollments have occurred so far.”…
By Wednesday afternoon, enrollments were up to “approximately 100.” By the end of Wednesday, the notes reflect “248 enrollments” nationwide…
“Statistics coming in,” said notes from the very first meeting the morning of Oct. 2. Contractor “QSSI has a daily dashboard created every night.”
They’ve got some sort of enrollment metric available to them every day, yet not a soul inside the administration has ventured a guess publicly about enrollments. They’ll happily tell you that many millions have visited the site and that 700,000 applications have been filed across the various online exchanges nationwide, but enrollment was a black box until now. Bob Laszewski’s best estimate, which even he considered unacceptably low, was that 10,000 people had successfully enrolled in the first week. Per the notes Attkisson obtained, fewer than 250 had enrolled after the first two days. Just how bad are the numbers to date anyway?
Say, didn’t Sebelius tell the House committee yesterday that she had no data on enrollments? Actually, no. Read the fine print:
“We have no reliable data about enrollment, which is why we haven’t given it to date,” Sebelius said at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.
At the committee’s hearing on Tuesday, members repeatedly asked Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to provide enrollment numbers. Each time, she answered, “We will have that information in mid-November.”
Why would she doubt the reliability of the data? Because of the back-end problems on the website. It may be that insurers have so many garbled or incomplete applications piled up that they’re honestly not sure yet how many of them will result in successful enrollments when they’re processed. Even the applications themselves might be duplicative in some cases; they could have five in the stack from the same person, generated by a site glitch, which might at first blush look like five separate applications but in fact really just represents one. No one, except maybe the “tech surge” team and the insurers themselves, has any sense of how bad it might be. So Sebelius is seizing the opportunity presented by the data’s unreliability to say the whole subject’s off-limits. Government accountability at work.
Via the Corner, here’s Jay Carney earlier today conceding that the number of enrollments will be “low” because “that was always going to be the case.” Remember, eight weeks ago, they thought 494,620 qualified as “low.”