Is HealthCare.gov’s debacle a Waterloo for Obamacare?

Looking over the Affordable Care, if you can get online. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Looking over the Affordable Care, if you can get online.
(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Enrollment in Obamacare is falling far short of the President’s grandiose predictions and is expected to increase pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to at least delay implementation of the program.

With fewer than 50,000 Americans signed through the end of October, the problem-plagued health care “reform” is becoming an increasingly potent political issue for Republicans and a growing embarrassment to Democrats.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” a White House aide admitted Tuesday to Capitol Hill Blue.

The total is far, far below the high predictions of Obama, who claimed more than seven million would enroll in the first year of the program — an average of 583,000 a month.

“Yes, 50,000 is a lot less than 573,000,” admitted Democratic strategist Don Goodling.  “I’d say we have a ways to go.”

In addition, Obama is facing growing political fallout by growing awareness that tens of millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance after he boldly promises that anyone could keep the insurance they currently have.

White House officials now admit privately that the health care program is in trouble because too many contingencies or problems were not considered or given adequate attention.

Sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that some Democrats are telling party leaders and Obama that the program, once considered the President’s signature achievement, may not survive.

Official enrollment data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia is not scheduled for release by the administration until later this week and some now wonder if the data will be released at all because it will be considered too embarrassing to the White House.

Some Democrats now worry that attempts to reach both a budget agreement and an increase on the nation’s debt limit may require reluctantly agreeing to Republican demands for delay or cancellation of the program.

The problems of HealthCare.Gov has stalled the program indefinitely and, some feel, seriously damaged the credibility of the Affordable Care Act overall.

“Yes, we in trouble on this,” a senior Democratic Senate aide says.  “We’re in serious trouble.”

Republican critics will certainly cite the low enrollment figures as the law’s implementation is failing and, with it, the law itself.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, aims to provide health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans. It mandates that most Americans at least be enrolled for health insurance by March 31 or pay a fine.

Americans must enroll by December 15 for coverage that begins January 1.

The official October data will also underscore the challenges that face the administration next month, when a rehabilitated HealthCare.gov is expected to begin handling enrollments for well over one million people who could be waiting to sign up for coverage that would begin January 1.

On Monday, healthcare research and consultancy firm Avalere Health said their own functioning exchanges have signed up 49,100 people, just 3 percent of enrollment predictions for all of 2014.

As many as 7 million Americans were predicted by the Obama administration to sign up for private health insurance through the online marketplaces for 2014. An additional 9 million were expected to enroll in an expanded Medicaid program for the poor by March 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

So far, the numbers are not coming at a pace that will be anywhere near the predictions.

“We cannot confirm these numbers,” Erin Shields Britt, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told Reuters Tuesday. “More generally, we have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time.”

Jeffrey Zients, the White House official assigned to get HealthCare.gov operating smoothly by the end of the month, said Friday that while the website is improving, higher volumes of visitors are exposing new capacity and software issues.

He described HealthCare.gov as being “a long way from where it needs to be.”

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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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2 Responses to "Is HealthCare.gov’s debacle a Waterloo for Obamacare?"

  1. David  November 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    And those 49K that signed up…doesn’t actually mean they bought a health plan on the exchange. It just means they entered their data.

    You see a regular site like esurance actually lets you shop prices before registering so you can decide if you want to buy. Turkeycare doesn’t do that, it makes you register first, because Obama people didn’t want everyone scared away by sticker shock at the sky-high prices and deductibles.

    So who knows what small fraction of those people actually bought health plans.

  2. Danny Adams  November 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    The numbers aren’t keeping pace (state exchanges aside), but I suspect this will be one of those things where the upshot is remembered more than the beginning. If it’s still having problems a year from now I think it will doom Obamacare; if it’s running smoothly by then and lots of people have signed up, chances are the only people who will rehash the problems it’s having now will be its opponents.

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