President Obama abandoned his own administration's do-over deadline for fixing Healthcare.gov last week, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is sprinting away from that timetable even faster. The whole project will remain a 'work in progress' well after November 30, she now says. Why, yes. Yes it will (via the Washington Free Beacon):
It's okay. You're allowed to laugh. And these folks were struggling with the site's front end, which Obamacare's IT chief Henry Chao testified yesterday is 100 percent operational -- though he's conceded that major flaws remain. What isn't even close to 100 percent built is Obamacare's technological back end, which entails processing consumers' data and actually enrolling people. Chao mentioned that the program's payment systems and accounting systems still need to be constructed. Health insurance expert Bob Laszewski compared the latter issue to opening a bank without having the capacity to send customers monthly statements. As for the payment systems, it appears that the administration has indefinitely delayed a major function of a Travelocity-like experience through Healthcare.gov; namely, consumers will pay insurers directly, rather than through the exchange websites. The currently unbuilt payment systems, therefore, refers to the process by which the government will dole out subsidies to the insurance companies on behalf of beneficiaries. So those who do manage to fully enroll in Obamacare (whatever that looks like) will be able to pay premiums and get covered. Untangling the subsidy mess is another story. On that count, they've erected an additional deadline: Mid-January. Overwhelmed by the din of failure, Sebelius shrugs that it was a "bad call" to try to launch on October 1. Gee. In the same story she assures Americans that she "feels like" Healthcare.gov is safe from a data security standpoint. Feelings, meet experts:
Cyber security experts told Congress today that the Obama administration should take Healthcare.gov offline until privacy vulnerabilities are addressed and detection capabilities are improved. David Kennedy, a so-called “white hat hacker” who tests security flaws by hacking online systems to help identify weaknesses, warned that there are critical flaws and exposures “currently on the website that hackers could use to extract sensitive information.”
Carol posted a CBS News report explaining some of these risks last night. Other experts believe the site has already been compromised -- which comes as no surprise to these people. Meanwhile, just 50,000 Americans have selected plans through the federal exchange so far -- an improvement over October's dismal rate, but still woefully short of the administration's targets. Allahpundit asks a good question: How many of the "new" enrollees are among the millions who are frantically trying to sign up after being dumped from their existing coverage by Obamacare, and how many are previously-uninsured people obtaining healthcare for the first time? We were told the law wouldn't impact the former group at all, and would provide affordable coverage for millions within the latter group. That...doesn't seem to be happening as promised. Just ask Jessica Sanford:
Up next? Access shock, doctors being dropped from networks (buh-bye, "keep your doctor"), and more cancellation notices. And that's all before next fall's sticker shock, round two. Allahpundit surveys the landscape:
The best-case scenario for Democrats is that “young healthies” answer the bell en masse starting next month; that, at least, might spare them the dilemma of whether to pass Jeanne Shaheen’s bill extending next year’s enrollment period, which would only make the odds of adverse selection worse. Assuming all goes well for the rest of this year and the start of the next, the “only” ObamaCare problems they’ll have to face are access shock, a new round of rate shock over deductibles and co-pays, grumbling from people who are forced to pay the penalty in April because they didn’t enroll, and then the grand dumping of small-business employees onto the exchanges next fall.
To which Hill Democrats are reacting with confident composure. Just kidding. Panic!
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography