June 19 2014
Sebelius: I Didn’t Do That!
Patrice J. Lee
Now that the former Health and Human Services Secretary is out, she’s trying to clean up the record and throwing everyone on the right under the bus. However, a new congressional report on the problems leading up to the failed rollout indicates a lack of planning, management, and direction from government agencies.
In her first speech following her departure from public office, Sebelius lashed out at a number of players whom she said contributed to the failure of the ObamaCare rollout last fall. At an ObamaCare "pep rally" hosted by the ObamaCare-promoting nonprofit Enroll America, Sebelius, the President, and other pro-ObamaCare speakers took a chance to commiserate about last fall and cheer each other on as they prepare to kick-off the next enrollment period. Sebelius praised volunteers then unloaded on the “relentless obstruction” and “intimidation” she claimed they faced.
The Daily Caller reports:
“We had right-wing media, leadership in Congress who was determined on the House side to stop this law at any cost, shadow political organizations, hostile governors, hostile legislators, all working to make sure you couldn’t do the job that was so important,” Sebelius gushed, only once mentioning “our well-known issues with the website” putting a damper on customers getting coverage.
Sebelius even hit states for putting limits on navigators at all, seemingly, despite reports that personal information has already been put at risk. She hit back at the “relentless obstruction” of those who would put a check on Obamacare staffers asking for customers personal information — “people who were forced with getting fingerprints and paying a fee in order to help people access health insurance.”
What Sebelius calls “intimidation” and “relentless obstruction” was democracy in operation. Opponents to the broad, sweeping healthcare insurance plan expressed their disagreement and used their powers and authority to stop what they (and a majority of Americans) believe is an ill-advised national policy that would create more harm for our healthcare industry and economy than good.
The un-Affordable Care Act failed to insure uninsured Americans, is driving up healthcare premiums and costs, and has caused employers to alter their employment practices including reducing hours, laying off and forgoing hiring new workers, and even forgoing expansion plans.
Sebelius somehow neglected to place any blame on her doorstep, but a new report does.
Senate Republicans are set to release a report today that details warning signs surfaced before the failed launch of healthcare.gov. Drawn from congressional testimony and inter-agency emails, the report paints a picture of a disorganized, leaderless, and directionless effort that ignored the warnings of outside experts and auditors.
The Washington Times reports:
“Both metaphorically and factually, the website was designed to be the public face of President Obama’s signature achievement,” the report says. “However, the Obama administration failed to task any one individual or entity within [the Health and Human Services Department] or [the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] with ensuring the success of the public face of Obamacare.”
Limited testing and warnings from McKinsey and Company’s consultants are well-documented parts of theHealthCare.gov narrative, but the new report reveals that auditors from TurningPoint Global Solutions studied the project from September 2012 to September 2013 and found “technical and managerial concerns that ultimately were key factors in the failure of the website.”
The report says a small group of officials at CMS read TurningPoint’s concerns about the project’s cloud computing capabilities and poor communication among project managers, yet did not report them up to senior leadership.
As late as September — weeks before the website’s launch — TurningPoint said there were more than 500 “critical” flaws in the portal’s code, according to the Republicans’ timeline of events.
Over $834 million of taxpayer funds have been spent on building and rehabilitating the ailing healthcare.gov website. Billions more have been spent on getting ObamaCare up and-running from marketing and PR to recruiting navigators. How can we forget the bro-surance keg stand ads or the videos of navigators promoting fraudulent behavior among applicants.
Sebelius focuses on the opposition she and the President received, but she was in charge of implementing ObamaCare. The technical glitches weren’t caused by opposition but incompetence on the part of her team. ObamaCare’s overall problems are fundamental not just technical or in the advertising and execution. Sebelius would do well to face that reality.