President Obama and the Democrats may have won the fight to keep Obamacare funding intact, but the president’s signature health-care takeover is self-destructing as even Healthcare.gov contractors say they are falling ill and “fainting in conference calls” because they can’t keep up with demand to fix the program’s glitches.
News of Obamacare’s imploding launch went from bad to worse Thursday:
- Soaring cost: The cost of the Healthcare.gov online insurance website soared from $93.7 million to $292 million since April as the Obama administration began pouring money into the project following concerns it was in trouble. According to Reuters, “Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the lead Obamacare agency, said at an insurance-industry meeting that he was ‘pretty nervous’ about the exchanges being ready by October 1, adding, ‘let’s just make sure it’s not a Third-World experience.’” Now the House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the technical problems and contractors who received hundreds of millions of dollars to create it.
- Copyright violation: The Obamacare website has reportedly violated licensing agreements for copyrighted software. The website failed to comply with the user agreement when it removed copyright notices from the software. The company says it will pursue action against the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Minimal testing: The site wasn’t even tested until less than a week before its launch. A person with direct knowledge of the procedures told the Washington Examiner, “Normally a system this size would need 4-6 months of testing and performance tuning, not 4-6 days.”
- Old technology: Technology experts are reporting that the federal exchange was built with “10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system.”
- Nancy Pelosi complains: The glitches have become so bad, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – who personally pushed Obamacare through the House when she was speaker – said the system “has to be improved,” though she claims the problems are due to overwhelming traffic. Pelosi added, “I hope that we would have some answers soon and that the answer would be: OK, we’ve found the glitch or whatever it is, it’s been corrected and here’s a demonstration of how people, when they approach it now, will be received.”
- No accountability: White House press Secretary Jay Carney tried to distance the president’s signature legislation from the troubled website, arguing, “It’s important to remember the website alone is not the Affordable Care Act.” But Carney refused to answer whether anyone would be held accountable for the botched roll-out.
- Designers distance themselves: Now even the designers who helped create Healthcare.gov have erased all references to their Obamacare-related work from their firm’s website.
- Contractors fainting: And Healthcare.gov contractors claim they’ve been working themselves sick trying to fix the glitches. “There’s a lot of frustration,” a staffer said. “People are getting sick, fainting in conference calls.”
- Navigators frustrated: Other community organizations and nonprofit groups that had been hired to help millions of Americans sign up for Obamacare are now expressing frustration over the enrollment process. (Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN, is now participating in the Obamacare “navigator” drive.)
- Tremendously low enrollment: Three weeks after the website’s launch, enrollment numbers remain very low. Washington state has only enrolled .36 percent of its population. Only .25 percent of Californians have started applications. Only .08 percent of Nevada’s population has created an account. Just .3 percent of Kentucky’s estimated population has purportedly enrolled. While 28,000 applications were submitted by Kentucky residents, page views were said to have exceeded 5.5 million. About 100,000 New Yorkers were said to have “qualified” for health insurance. Only .22 percent of Minnesota’s population has applied for coverage, but one-third of that number is said to have enrolled. Millard Brown Digital, reporting that fewer than 1 percent of the people trying to enroll in Obamacare had completed the enrollment process in the first week, released the following chart:
- Americans losing insurance: Also Thursday, Americans began tweeting their anger and surprise over insurance cancellations and the higher premiums they will be forced to pay under Obamacare.
- Sebelius won’t resign: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will not resign over the disastrous Obamacare website roll-out despite numerous calls for her to be fired, her brother says, adding, “You don’t resign in the middle of a fight.” Sebelius’ sister told the New York Times, “The White House is smart enough to know that if she steps aside or they ask her to resign, they will never get anybody else confirmed. Plus, I don’t think they hold her responsible.”
- Sticker shock: The Heritage Foundation released the following chart showing that insurance on health exchanges will cost more than existing insurance:
Meanwhile, Republicans came out on the losing end of the final deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, but the leader of one of the most influential conservative organizations says it only happened because establishment Republicans deliberately and publicly undermined their more conservative colleagues instead of focusing on the “huge liability that is Obamacare.”
“The problem from the very beginning of this process is you had a divide within the GOP, between those that were willing to avoid any confrontation on the budget at any cost and those like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and a growing number of Republicans that wanted to fight for something meaningful, wanted to do what they said they were going to do in their last election,” Freedomworks President and CEO Matt Kibbe told WND.
“That was our Achilles’ heel from Day 1 because more establishmentarian types like John McCain and John Cornyn started shooting at their own instead of all of us focusing our message on the Democrats and the huge liability that is Obamacare.”
Twenty-seven Senate Republicans voted for the final debt deal while 18 opposed it. Many long-serving GOP members publicly slammed Cruz and Lee for waging a battle they didn't have the votes to win. McCain and others repeatedly asserted that Obamacare cannot realistically be addressed until the party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. But Kibbe said he has no patience for that argument.
"I've been in Washington long enough that I've noticed this pattern where politicians tell you that we have to wait until after the next election to do what we said we were going to do. There's always another election, and they always say it's too hard to take on entitlements, it's too hard to take on Obamacare," said Kibbe, who noted that Cornyn, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, argued in 2010 that fighting Obamacare was a a losing strategy.
"There's an upside to fighting," he said. "Tip O'Neill, the famous Democratic speaker, proved that when he shut down the government some 12 times to challenge both President Carter and Reagan on his budget priorities. We've lost that willingness to fight. It's not easy reining in government, but the question is, if you don't like the strategy that Lee and Cruz came up with, I didn't see another one on the table. And not fighting is not an option."
On Thursday, Kibbe authored a Fox News column titled, "Establishment Republicans have given up – it's time for the rest of us to do their job." The piece is more of a diagnosis than a prescription, but Kibbe said the simplest path to progress is bringing more conservatives to Washington who will fight for the principles they run on.
"We need to look for upgrades in both the Democratic and Republican Party," he said. "If you look at the electoral map in 2014, you're definitely going to see some establishment Republicans challenged like we did in 2012 and 2010. You're also going to see upgrades in open seats and pickup seats with Democrats."
While Democrats, some Republicans and the media disparage Sen. Lee and Sen. Cruz, Kibbe said their argument will gain many more supporters as the facts about Obamacare continue to emerge.
"As we see the actual implementation of Obamacare hurt actual people, people that are herded into the exchanges even though they were promised they could keep the health care that they had, young people that will be forced to buy something they can't afford and others that will see their jobs cut or their premiums increase, all of those real factors are going to prove us right and the Democrats wrong as we head into 2014," he said.