From the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up File” comes yet another instructive episode of “Big Government at Work.”
Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius was in North Miami Saturday as part of the Obama administration’s last-ditch push to get young adults signed up for health insurance via the federal exchanges. Similar events were staged in Tampa and Orlando, because Saturday was an important date in the Obamacare saga: People without insurance who hadn’t finished an application by Feb. 15 would have missed the deadline to be covered the following month.
Moreover, despite a pop-star-studded marketing campaign sparkling with the likes of singer Lady Gaga and actress Olivia Wilde (“In Time,” “House M.D.”), young adult enrollments — pivotal to the exchanges’ economic survival — are less than two-thirds of what officials had optimistically projected (25 percent vs. 38 percent).
As if that weren’t problem enough, the very afternoon Sebelius and other Obamacare operatives were in Florida and across the nation making a Youth National Enrollment Day push for the crucial cohort, Healthcare.gov was about to be taken off-line for scheduled maintenance.
“From Saturday February 15, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. until Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 5:00 a.m. EST, the Social Security Administration will conduct required, regularly scheduled systems maintenance activities. During this period, you won’t be able to submit an application at HealthCare.gov and find out what you are eligible for. If you are trying to enroll by the February 15 deadline for coverage beginning March 1, you should try to submit your application before 3:00 p.m. on February 15, so the outage doesn’t affect you.”
Not unexpectedly, Obamacare activists were somewhat staggered. As Buzzfeed reported, “We just found that out,” said Aaron Smith, cofounder of the recruitment group Young Invincibles. “Obviously it’s unfortunate.”
Added another, “It’s not ideal.”
Ah, but as we have seen, deadlines are immaterial to fulfilling the grand ambitions laid out by Obamacare’s architects. No sooner had the snafu been discovered than the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued a reprieve. Anyone who had saved an application by Feb. 15 would be able to finish it Feb. 18 (Wednesday) and still slip in under the wire. So long as they rang up the call center. Or something.
The good news, organizers said, was they had become accustomed to working without a functioning web site, so this latest setback was sort of like reliving December, except without the need to fit in Christmas shopping. Which, as memory serves, they did during frequent Healthcare.gov outages using Amazon.com.
What’s the big deal? If the degree to which different agencies within the administration don’t communicate about the single most important program of President Obama’s tenure — his “signature achievement” — one is left to shudder at the Big Government problems associated with turning the ACA into actual medical care.
I mean, someday the people working under this model of efficiency will be the same ones deciding whether you get that new hip or a bottle of pills.