Don't say you weren't warned, America. The likelihood of cut corners, crashed websites, and delayed enrollment has been coming into focus since the early summer. The Obama administration treated each troublesome admonition as a hiccup or a smear, going so far as to release a taxpayer-funded television ad falsely assuring Americans that everything was right "on schedule." Because of the sundry unilateral delays the president has been forced to direct -- without any explanation of his authority to do so -- the implementation process should be easier. After all, major elements of the program have already been scaled back and postponed, and the federal government has had well over three years to prepare for Tuesday's deadline. And yet, the wheels are already beginning to come off the cart. Let's start in Washington, DC, home to the highest concentration of bureaucrats in the nation. Surely the District's relatively tiny Obamacare exchange will be good to go next week, right? Wrong:
Just days away from launch, the District of Columbia's health marketplace is announcing a pretty significant delay. While the D.C. Health Link will launch a Web site on October 1, shoppers will not have access to the their premium prices until mid-November. The delay comes after the District marketplace discovered "a high error rate" in calculating the tax credits that low- and middle-income people will use to purchase insurance on the marketplace. The insurance marketplaces, if working as plan, are supposed to spit out an estimate for a tax credit after a shopper enters in some basic information about where she lives and how much she earns. In the District, that won't happen next month. Instead, the eligibility determination will be made "off-line by experts" by early November.
I say again, don't pretend you weren't warned. Hot Air's Ed Morrissey points out a special irony about the DC snafu: Just a few days ago, the Washington Post was boosting the District's exchange as a paragon of preparedness: "District officials, for example, say all systems are go for launch for the city’s new health insurance exchange on Oct. 1." Oops. I guess the Obamacare spinmeisters will need to reimagine the definition of "launch," too. Let's head out west to Colorado, where officials started sending up rescue flares last month. Here's why:
Pitched to the public as a Travelocity-style online marketplace for health insurance, Colorado’s new health exchange won’t allow customers to get online tax credits for at least the first month. Colorado exchange managers revealed Monday during a board meeting that customers who want tax credits to make health insurance more affordable will have to call for help, rather than navigating the multi-million dollar computer system on their own. One of the target audiences for the new exchange is “young invincibles,” healthy 20-somethings, many of whom prefer to do research and make purchases for everything from athletic shoes to college tuition online.
At least the first month. So when healthy young people -- upon whom the success of the whole enchillada rests -- hop online to check out whether they can afford the new rates (I've seen conflicting accounts of Colorado costs, one of the few states in which the news hasn't been universally bad), they'll get an error message encouraging them to call one of these people. How's that going to fly? In another twist, the top Colorado healthcare official recently stated that based on her previous stint at HHS, the Rocky Mountain state was among the most prepared to handle the October 1 deadline. If "ready" Colorado is behind the eight ball, other jurisdictions must be in really desperate straits. These stories are likely just the tip of the iceberg, which is why already-popular GOP "delay" efforts may gain some real traction on Capitol Hill. Republicans are reportedly gearing up to make a one-year delay of the individual mandate part of their debt ceiling ask. More on that later today. There's Obamacare news breaking all over the place, so stay tuned...
UPDATE - I should have mentioned that Oregon led the pack on this front, announcing their delay weeks ago.
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