Administration Lowers Expectations for Obamacare's Second Year



The administration's confident, determined approach to messaging Obamacare didn't work out so well last year, at least in the sense that it was proven to be bluster totally unsupported by reality, so this year it's trying a less-aggressive strategy: Don't promise so much.

In a somewhat amusing article, Politico describes the new approach as an attempt to "undersell" the health law prior to its second open-enrollment period, which begins next month:

Gone are the promises that enrolling will be as easy as buying a plane ticket on Orbitz. The new head of HHS is not on Capitol Hill to promise that HealthCare.gov is on track. And no one is embracing Congressional Budget Office projections of total sign-up numbers.

Sobered — and burned — by last fall's meltdown of the federal website, the administration is setting expectations for the second Obamacare open enrollment period as low as possible.

Officials say the site won't be perfect but will be improved. They refuse to pinpoint how many people they plan to enroll, instead describing general goals of reducing the number of uninsured and providing a positive "customer experience" — not exactly metrics that can be immediately judged.

What this approach amounts to, then, is a refusal to publicly adopt any performance metrics by which the law and its backers might be held accountable. This administration is more or less explicit about not wanting to be judged by any hard and fast measures, instead preferring assessments based on softer, less easy-to-define standards about the customer experience. Back to Politico

"What we have said is that the experience will be better," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told reporters on Thursday. "It will not be perfect. We know that, and we know that there will be issues that will be raised as we go on in the process."

Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and one of the people responsible for HealthCare.gov's technology, wouldn't make any projections on how the website would operate when open enrollment begins Nov. 15.

"We are much more comfortable talking about results than expectations," Slavitt said Wednesday. "We are extremely focused on meeting our milestones. We're very focused on making sure that everyone has a good customer experience."

Judging by last year's selective approach to publishing health law data—you know, the "results" of the health care law—and the reluctance to say whether it will continue issuing similar reports on the law's outcomes this year, the administration does not seem to be particularly comfortable talking about results either. 

The administration's strategy, in other words, is rather like that of a darts player who throws one against the wall, draws a target around where it stuck, and then claims to have hit a bullseye.  

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  1. So, what are they trying to tell us? That Obamacare really isn’t going to lower costs?

    “What we have said is that the experience will be better,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told reporters on Thursday. “It will not be perfect. We know that, and we know that there will be issues that will be raised as we go on in the process.”

    Yeah, it’s going to be good right up until the point that it’s time to pay and you find out how much you’ve been lied to and just how screwed over you are going to be.

    ‘Oh, look! Sure your costs are going to skyrocket and you’re going to get an inferior in every way healthcare system, but the fucked up website is going to get a little better! Yeah!, now be sure to vote D in 2016 to thank us!’

  2. Oh God, PLEASE – stop making it so easy to hate everything about this administration and big govt in general…

    I mean this is what we’re using as criteria now?
    “Helps *SOME* people”?
    “Provides a good customer experience”?

    The worst part is that the GOP has nothing relevant or thoughtful to challenge it and fix the bullshit hacked-together system. As soon as they regain the reigns, they laser-in on the most important things threatening our great nation: ABORSHUN and TEH GAYZ MARRIAGE.


      Don’t forget more foreign wars and war on drugs.

  3. 40 million are uninsured! Our goal is to get all 40 million covered.

    The CBO estimates that 7 million will be covered after the ACA goes into effect. The estimate was correct! 7 million covered. Woohoo! We hit our goal!

  4. …and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

  5. My expectations for this clusterfuck are pretty low to begin with. So…..lower than that ?

  6. I just had to check to see if we have another data point in the liberal women v conservative women comparison.


    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is as homely as a third generation Kennedy.

  7. And in the face of ALL OF THIS, Susan Collins (R) believes that we’re past the point of repealing Obamacare.


    BTW, if you follow this link and brave to read the comments, prepare to enter the Land of Derp.

  8. So, rather than just moving the goalposts, they are going to remove them altogether, then claim that just lining up for the kick is a victory in itself.

  9. Texas sharpshooter fallacy


  10. The definition of “Liberal in La La Land.- http://www.npr.org/2014/10/13/…..ton-reagan

  11. IT’S OFFICIAL! REASON HAS BEEN LYING TO US! http://www.rollingstone.com/po…..g-20140409

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