Don’t bother turning on cable news. She’s doing this on a conference call, not in front of the cameras, presumably to minimize the embarrassment.
And it will be embarrassing.
"I promise you no one will be satisfied" with the enrollment numbers to be announced today, says @PressSec
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 13, 2013
Sources told the Wall Street Journal last week that there were 50,000 or so enrollments through the federal exchange as of November 10, which, as Bob Laszewski pointed out a few nights ago, averages out to something like 50 enrollees per day in each of the 36 states served by Healthcare.gov. (Another 50,000 or so had enrolled on the various state exchanges at the time of the Journal report.) There’s no real suspense about the topline number; the suspense lies in whether Sebelius will offer any demographic breakdown of the data. How many of the 50-60,000 who have signed up are people with preexisting conditions? How many are low-income and need significant subsidies? ObamaCare will succeed or fail depending upon how many “young healthies” can be persuaded or coerced into signing up. How are they doing with that group?
ObamaCare supporter Jonathan Cohn says it’s time to start thinking unhappy thoughts about back-up plans just in case, as expected, Healthcare.gov isn’t ready to ramp up on December 1. None of the available options are good ones, though; if you missed my own post on “Plan B,” you can read it here. Even if they do get the front end working more or less efficiently, there are still back-end problems lurking:
Nijhawan also touched on a problem that has yet to be widely addressed. He said the exchanges that are expected to allow insurance companies to share information with the federal government are not close to being ready. Without this information, CMS would not know who enrolled in the plans.
“As soon as these enrollment issues get ironed out either by December or March, you have other issues relating to the back end, where there’s a lot of reconciliation that needs to be done between health care and CMS,” Nijhawan said.
When asked why these exchanges weren’t completed before the rollout, he said, “They were trying to desperately get ready for the rollout.”
It never ends. One other footnote about the enrollment data while we wait for Sebelius: Remember, their definition of what qualifies as an “enrollment” will include people who placed an insurance plan in their virtual shopping cart on Healthcare.gov but who, for various reasons, never actually proceeded to checkout. How many of those consumers intended to buy the plans but were sabotaged by a system glitch and how many had second thoughts after putting the plan in their cart and never intended to buy it at all? Watch Jason Chaffetz have some fun with the White House’s chief tech officer on that point at today’s House hearing. Exit question via Greg Pollowitz: Do Obama and Pelosi care whether House Democrats take a beating over this in the midterms? They passed ObamaCare knowing that it could mean an electoral wipeout. Why wouldn’t they stick by it now knowing that it might mean another one?
Update: The Journal’s sources claimed 50,000 had enrolled via the federal exchange and 50,000 on the state exchanges. They got the proportions wrong but the sum almost correct:
JUST IN: 26,794 people bought insurance on http://t.co/5P8uZYqqLk in 1st month, feds say; nearly 80,000 more signed up on state marketplaces
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 13, 2013
To put that another way, over the 31 days of October, each of the 36 states served by Healthcare.gov managed to enroll … 24 people per day. Not surprisingly, the federal welfare component of ObamaCare, which doesn’t rely on stone-age technology, did much better:
HHS: 396,261 Americans have been determined or assessed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) November 13, 2013
The target for total ObamaCare enrollments in October (not including Medicaid) was just shy of 500,000. They got slightly more than 20 percent of the way there.