Upton: “The situation is so bad that a 20 percent failure rate is the goal."

November 29, 2013

As November 30 Nears, Administration Says It Is  “On Track” To Meet Goals Originally Set for October 1 While Simultaneously Scaling Back Expectations

The administration is again assuring Americans that it is “on track” for November 30 improvements to HealthCare.gov, but after months of similar assurances prior to October 1, there is little comfort in these declarations.

ABC News reports, “‘We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of this month,’ Sebelius said in a conference call with state and local officials Tuesday.” CNN adds that, “Obama administration officials are sounding increasingly confident they will meet the president’s goal of having the troubled website HealthCare.gov working for the ‘vast majority’ of users by November 30. ‘We continue to be on track to meeting the goals that we established for ourselves and established for the website on Nov. 30,’ Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One Monday.” But just last week Sebelius told the AP, “The 30th of November is not a magic go, no-go date. It is a work of constant improvement.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports, “White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users.”

So what does the administration hope HealthCare.gov will achieve on December 1?

Nearly two months after the start of open enrollment, National Journal reports, “Administration officials have said they expect the site will work for about 80 percent of users by Nov. 30. Yet a 20 percent failure rate wouldn’t be considered success in most industries, and it also might not be good enough to stem the tide of negative anecdotes about Obamacare enrollment.”

It is clear that much work remains. The administration’s point person on building the marketplace, Henry Chao, recently testified that 30 to 40 percent of the Federally Facilitated Marketplace had yet to be built, including the insurer payment system. Between this fact and the administration’s recent shift in expectations for November 30, the American people have reason to be concerned.

Secretary Sebelius testified at the full committee on October 30, “It will take until the end of November for an optimally functioning website. I know that the only way I can restore confidence that we get it right is to get it right. So, I have confidence, but I know that it isn’t fair to ask the American public to take our word for it. I’ve got to fix this problem and we are underway doing just that.”

Regardless of when HealthCare.gov is finally “fixed,” the bad news for Americans will keep coming. As Jim Capretta explained in a recent Weekly Standard article, “Another Broken Promise: Obamacare Is Driving Costs Up, Not Down,” despite the president’s promise that families will save an average of $2,500 per year, “Commonsense indicates that a program entitling millions of people to new health benefits is likely to increase cost pressures, not reduce them.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, “The first two months of open enrollment have done serious damage to the administration’s credibility in its failure to deliver on its promises. The situation is so bad that a 20 percent failure rate is the goal. We’ve been down this road before as officials looked us in the eye for months, pledging to the American people that everything was ‘on track’ and we now know with the chaos behind the scenes that it was ‘on track’ for disaster. What reason do we have to believe things will be different now? Secretary Sebelius was correct that it is ‘not fair’ to simply take her word for it that things will be better starting tomorrow."