OMB director: Er, no, I can't gaurantee that will be running smoothly by mid-December

There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the Six Month Enrollment Period That Wasn’t, as the bottlenecked rate at which registrations to and applications through HealthCare.Gov turn into successfully insured enrollees continues to move at a crawl. The revelation of the March 31st-but-actually-February-14th cutoff date paired with the moving target that still is the “the online signup will be super easy and painless!” start date is every day shrinking the window in which people can either obtain health insurance or get stuck with the individual-mandate penalty, and as Speaker Boehner put it the other day, “how can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn’t work?” If they can’t iron this thing out soon, even the political fiasco that would result from once again delaying the law might be more attractive than the from-all-sides criticisms with which their failure of a rollout will be rightfully saddled — and it certainly doesn’t sound like they’re sure they’ll have it under control any time soon, does it?

AL HUNT: But if people can’t sign up, they can’t get affordable care, and can you guarantee the public that by December 15, say, which is a little over 2 weeks before they can really join, that these problems will be largely rectified?

SYLVIA BURWELL: I think that the administration is working deeply on the problems that exist and I think it’s also important to recognize that there are other places and ways, in terms of whether those are the phone numbers, the navigators, and other tools and choices that people have to do that. I think also, from an OMB perspective, it’s also important to also recognize, in addition to the issue of health care for in the uninsured, the issue of people who have children up to 26 being covered, the issue of preexisting conditions, all of those are being worked on in a very successful way in terms of the substance and reducing costs.

HUNT: Cautiously optimistic you’ll have it rectified by December 15th?

BURWELL: I am optimistic that we’ll continue to make progress on the issue.

Yes, but “making progress” and having it fixed by a foreseeable date aren’t exactly the same thing, are they? The Obama administration doesn’t usually have a problem glossing over facts, issuing blithe assurances and dismissals, and making promises they can’t keep, so the unwillingness to even nonchalantly commit to a date almost two months from now bodes rather ill. I mean, they aggressively insisted that everything was peachy-keen and ready to go for October 1st, and that didn’t work out too well for them, did it?