[Guest post by Dana]
Today was the deadline for Americans to sign up for health care coverage and avoid facing a tax penalty. Not surprisingly, Healthcare.gov, the federal website for consumers, stalled due to heavy volume and a software bug. (Last week HHS offered an extension to consumers prevented from finishing their transaction due to exceptional circumstances, such as natural disasters, website technical issues, or other administrative problems).
The Los Angeles Times greeted the Obamacare enrollment data on Monday with a striking headline, claiming that “at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage,” which is 3 million people more than the Obama administration itself claimed last week (a number that was itself highly questionable, since it did not exclude those who had not paid for their new insurance). The Times’ analysis, however, is laughable.
The New York Times took the opportunity to recite the numbers,
In the last week, the administration counted more than 8.7 million visits to HealthCare.gov, including more than 2 million over the weekend. The telephone call center took more than 2.5 million phone calls in the last week, compared with 2.4 million for all of February.
At the White House, officials embarked on a kind of victory lap. Jay Carney, the press secretary, said that the number of people signing up for health care would be “significantly above six million,” and he reminded journalists of the predictions of doom when HealthCare.gov crashed last fall.
Mr. Carney said he did not have “any concrete numbers” to show how many people had paid premiums, as required to activate coverage.
And, troubling, a Southern California couple who are registered Republicans, were surprised to discover a voter registration card pre-marked with an “X” in the box next to Democratic Party, inside an envelope from Covered California, the state’s Obamacare website.
Covered California spokeswoman clarified and instructed,
“We are mailing voter registration material. However, the application forms come directly from the Secretary of State’s office, with no fields pre-marked. The individual should contact the Secretary of State, which takes these violations of election law extremely seriously, and they will investigate, using the unique serial number.”
(Apparently, the couple was unable to reach anyone at the Secretary of State office. The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office directed them to contact Covered California…).