Shhh: Embattled Obamacare Official Quietly 'Retires'

Posted: Dec 31, 2013 11:28 AM

Disgraced federal bureaucrats don't seem to resign these days. They certainly aren't fired -- and even when they are, they appeal and are reinstated. No, they "retire," and make off with a raft of taxpayer-funded benefits accrued over years of "public service." As Ms. Snyder prepares to step aside to spend more time with her family or whatever, her boss is singing her praises:

CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner noted in an email that Snyder was set to leave CMS at the end of 2012 but stayed on at Tavenner’s request to help with “the challenges facing CMS in 2013.” “While the agency is losing a key member of its leadership team, we should celebrate Michelle’s dedication to a mission that provides vital health care services to tens of millions of our fellow Americans through the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” Tavenner said. Snyder is the second top CMS official to leave since the website’s rocky rollout. Tony Trenkle, who served as the agency’s chief information officer, retired in November.

A job well done, Michelle. Bravo. And what did that job entail? According to the New York Times, "her official biography says that Ms. Snyder was responsible for “standing up new programs and activities required by the Affordable Care Act." And who among us wouldn't "celebrate" her job performance? Aside from the millions who struggled to log on to the broken website she oversaw, and plugged sensitive data into a compromised website, that is. Mary Katharine Ham quips, "Botch the roll-out of the president’s legacy law so badly that you end up with three million fewer insured people than when we started, and you get to retire, announce it over a holiday weekend, and grab that juicy pension for 41 years of mediocre-to-disastrous public service." Yeah, pretty much. As Sarah noted over the weekend, the Obama administration has announced that 1.1 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare coverage through -- a figure that's well short of the government's 2013 enrollment goal (the percentage of those who have fully enrolled by paying January's premiums remains unknown, and is surely far lower). The Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration said Sunday that 1.1 million people had signed up for health insurance through the federal online exchange, but a critic said those numbers showed there was no last minute rush to get coverage...Scott Gottlieb, a critic of the Affordable Care Act and a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a libertarian Washington think tank, said the numbers announced by the administration were “well behind” expectations. “They only announced 1.1 million. They were at 900,000 December 22nd,” Mr. Gottlieb said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We haven’t seen the rush we thought we would see at the end of the year.”

They're at 1.1 million "sign ups," compared to between 4 and 6 million people whose existing plans have been canceled due to Obamacare far. Major December blitz or not, half of the enrollment period has now elapsed, with the total goal of 7 million nowhere in sight. Getting there will be an immensely heavy lift, too, even with's improved front end capabilities. Part of the issue is that many Americans are now browsing their options and choosing not to purchase Obamacare plans. Why? In many cases, the "new and improved" coverage features higher premiums, huge deductibles, and narrower networks. What a deal. The Washington Examiner's Phil Klein says that what the administration didn't announce is more relevant:

To start, the figure doesn't reveal how many people actually paid for health plans as of Dec. 24. Though payment is what typically makes enrollment official, up to this point, CMS has counted people as being "enrolled" if they merely went through the process of picking a health care plan. Additionally, CMS still hasn't provided a demographic breakdown of those who have signed up for insurance through the exchange, which is a key metric for measuring the success of Obamacare, because the exchanges need a critical mass of young and healthy individuals to offset the cost of covering older and sicker enrollees and those with pre-existing conditions.

I'll leave you with my liberal counterpart on Fox -- who, in fairness, has been clear-eyed observer of the roll-out debacle -- clinging to the hope that Democrats' fortunes will improve once the technical difficulties pass. For reasons Conn outlined yesterday, it's a pipe dream:

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