We all already assumed that, I know. No matter how desperately The One may want to save face by refusing to fire Sebelius, there’s no way he would have kept her on if she had ruthlessly hidden the site’s problems from him until it went live and embarrassed him in front of the world. Of course he knew. And really, what incentive did Sebelius have to hide the truth? Even if she thought very early on that HHS could pull it together at the last minute and get the site ready by October 1, it must have been apparent soon enough that that was impossible. At that point, she had nothing to lose by telling O and everything to gain — i.e. keeping her job — by being honest.
We knew all this, but not until now did we have something like hard proof.
While Sebelius has said the president was not aware of HealthCare.gov’s problems, more than 750 pages of documents obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request show she made scores of visits to the White House.
The documents reveal that Sebelius met with or attended calls and events with Obama at least 18 times between Oct. 27, 2012, and Oct. 6, 2013, including at least seven instances in which the two were scheduled to discuss the new healthcare law, according to the secretary’s draft schedules.
She had breakfast or lunch with Pete Rouse, considered one of Obama’s closest advisers, at least three times. Moreover, Sebelius had scheduled calls or meetings with Valerie Jarrett, an Obama confidante, and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough…
The schedules suggest Sebelius was an active White House presence in the months leading up to the botched rollout, and raise new questions about why Obama wouldn’t have known about the problems that were exposed on Oct. 1.
If we’re ranking the biggest ObamaCare lies told by Obama, this probably doesn’t crack the top ten. Even so, I’m curious: Why weren’t these many meetings on the president’s official calendar? When Peter Schweizer pored over O’s public daily comings and goings from 2010 onward, he found dozens of meetings with other cabinet members but just a single solitary huddle with Sebelius. How come? When Schweizer first published that, it made Obama look like he was criminally disengaged from the ObamaCare rollout. According to what The Hill found, though, he wasn’t disengaged; he was, it seems, fully up to speed on the problems before launch day, then merrily lied about it once reporters started asking questions later.
Speaking of ObamaCare and lies, a friend sends along a good question in response to yesterday’s post about the somewhat dubious numbers for January. All along, the law’s defenders have insisted that HHS is missing its enrollment targets chiefly, or even exclusively, because of the botched website launch in October and November. (They hit their target in January — assuming you include people with unpaid premiums in the final numbers — but they’re still a million enrollees short of where they hoped to be right now overall.) I’m embarrassed to say I’ve accepted that logic myself before. Practically no one signed up in Healthcare.gov’s first two months so that must be why they’re still so far behind. But … does that make any sense? Even if you spent a week or two trying to sign up in October and then threw your computer out the window in frustration, you must have heard by now that the site’s working better and that the number of sign-ups have soared. This idea of a million people being “missing” from the enrollment ranks assumes that the people who were thwarted early on have all given up irretrievably. Why would they do that?
My friend’s theory is that this has little to do with computer glitches and a lot to do with rate shock. It doesn’t make sense that, having once failed to enroll, people would stop trying forever. It does make sense that, having finally seen what they’ll be paying in premiums, they’ve made a reasoned decision to pass. That seems plausible to me, especially since the risk pools right now are conspicuously short of younger adults. It’s the “young healthies” who are in the best position to pay the mandate penalty this year and risk going without coverage. Maybe that’s the missing million, not the victims of October’s 404pocalypse.