Six Down, Three Hundred Million To Go: SNL Skit May Have Predicted The Actual Enrollment Figures For Obamacare

220px-Kathleen_Sebelius_official_portrait
BN-AD839_snlhea_D_20131027081945For those who believe our government has become a bad parody of itself, you now have proof. As noted by WTOP, Saturday Night Live featured a skit in which Kate McKinnon portrayed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking about the problems in registering for health care. In the skit, faux Sebelius notes that the website is visited by millions but is designed to only handle six people at a time. However, the media is reporting that in the first 24 hours, only six users were able to enroll of 4.7 million visitors. In the meantime, the Administration is delaying the release of enrollment figures while contractors are blaming Administration officials for the lack of testing and negligence supervision of the system.

On the Saturday Night skit, McKinnon says “Millions of Americans are visiting healthcare.gov, which is great news,” McKinnon said during the opening of last week’s show. “Unfortunately the site was only designed to handle six users at a time.”

It was a hilarious video but the current situation is hardly funny. We spent a shocking $400 million on the computer systems for Obamacare. Yet, as reported by NY Times and others, there were plenty of early signs of problems. Now contractors are blaming the government for failing to test the system fully and the suggestion is that there was no full test of a system after almost half a billion dollars were spent. Had there been adequate testing, it would not have been the failure that we are seeing. Yet, as with so many other areas from surveillance to civil liberties, the Democrats are again remaining relatively quiet or openly opposing efforts to force answers.

In her testimony, Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said that the Administration would not disclose the numbers of those enrolled until mid-November. However, it is clear that such data exists but the Administration says it will not “have it” for released until weeks after the launch. Putting aside that convenient lack of current data, there is the testimony of contractors that it was the Administration that failed to allow full testing before the rollout.

While it is sometimes difficult to measure competence in public policy programs, this one would seem simple. The Administration repeatedly assured Congress that the system would be fully tested and ready by October 1st. Instead it was a disaster. The most obvious person accountable for such gross negligence is Sebelius. She had the ultimate responsibility to spend half of billion dollars wisely and guarantee a smooth rollout. She failed and it is not clear what it takes to get fired anymore in government. We have been discussing grotesque waste, massive loss of property, and even open perjury before Congress. None of it seems to meet the standard for discipline, let alone termination.  For those who have fought hard to pass national health care, this negligence has played directly into the hands of its critics.

Then there is the contract given to CGI Federal, a U.S. subsidiary of Canadian firm CGI Group, which has a dubious record in creating such systems. CGI was accused by Ontario of widespread failures in its computer system and saw its contract terminated. The company, which has a close friend of the First Lady among its top executives, was given a huge contract on Obamacare despite its record. The company secured a contract in late 2011 worth a total of $93.7 million but other reports say that additional contracts gave the company the potential total payments of nearly $292 million. The company spent over $1 million in lobbying which appear to have overcome the alleged failure with systems in its past according to critics.

Part of the problem for some us is the lack of a reliable source in the media. Fox demonizes Obama while MSNBC now deifies him. The fact that this program is unfortunately known as Obamacare means that the performance of the program is too closely tied to the President to allow Democrats to join in efforts to demand accountability and disclosures.

In the end, this is no joke. We have more information from a Saturday Night skit than the Administration and even less evidence of accountability for what appears an avoidable failure.

40 thoughts on “Six Down, Three Hundred Million To Go: SNL Skit May Have Predicted The Actual Enrollment Figures For Obamacare”

  1. “This country needs to divorce the concept of health care from private insurance.”

    Utterly and completely to the point, LK.

  2. Dogs, We don’t need national insurance protection and profits, we need single payer, universal health care. This country needs to divorce the concept of health care from private insurance. I’m all for the ACA but realize that thanks to corporations buying politicians like I buy paper towels, what we have is a massive transfer of wealth to insurance companies with built in guarantees of profit for them. If between the government and a pool of health care recipients there is enough money for insurance companies to sell insurance, pay for care and make a profit then there is enough money to cut the insurance companies out all together.

  3. Yeah, BarkinDog is right. Who needs government health care when Blue Cross does us so well?

  4. I am glad that the author of this article and the rest of you are all covered with insurance so well and that it is so cheap compared to say Germany. And, I am glad that you don’t have a kid who was denied any coverage for pre existing conditions. I am also saddened that you do not know the state of affairs of our so called health care system and are unaware of the cost.

  5. The point is on opening day and with too much traffic is not unusual for a site to crash. That does not negate the continuing issues but the brouhaha was initially about look it isn’t even working on the first day. And the site has nothing to do with how you feel about the ACA.
    David I know what the issues involve. I as well as many millions of others are already seeing benefit from the ACA.

  6. Comparing healthcare.gov to any other failed website is silly. If a website is buggy/crashy or not user friendly I have the option to not use the site and not purchase their products or services. Not so with healthcare.gov, I must purchase their product thru their site…or else. Apples & oranges.

  7. Magginkat but notiing that would defeat the purpose of making this administration look bad.

  8. It is weird to see Darrell Issa, three time carthief, leaking information that is then posted as definitive and factual. Either nobody learned anything from the way the three-time carthief lied about the IRS “scandal” or reciting cooked statistics is more than a fad at GW.

  9. The explanation that the data “isn’t available” is ridiculous. If they like, I can send them one of my Specialists or Privates over there to do a simple SQL query of completed records.

    If the program has failed to sign any numerically significant section of the populous, just say so, and work on it. Either that, or say you don’t want to tell us yet. Don’t lie and say it won’t be “available”. We’re not entirely that gullible.

  10. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/02/1243415/-By-Republican-logic-we-should-ve-defunded-the-GOP-in-09-when-their-website-launch-faceplanted

    By Republican logic, we should’ve defunded the GOP in ’09 when their website launch faceplanted
    The Republican National Committee on Tuesday tried to downplay criticism of its newly unveiled website http://www.gop.com, which was plagued by embarrassing omissions and numerous crashes on its first day of operation…[T]he site was inaccessible for much of the day.
    RNC New Media Director Todd Herman said the site was struggling from attracting “an enormous amount of traffic” […]

    Asked why the site kept crashing, Steele quipped, “It’s a little thing called traffic.”

    “This thing has exploded off the blocks,” [RNC Chairman Michael] Steele insisted. “It’s a good thing when you get another email from Todd saying, ‘It’s down again.’”

    1. leejcaroll wrote: “By Republican logic, we should’ve defunded the GOP in ’09 when their website launch faceplanted.”

      [sigh] Not the same thing at all. Nobody created a law forcing everyone to buy a product from the GOP, nor did they spend hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money doing it. Republicans had objected to Obamacare on the very basis that it would be expensive and difficult to do. The Democrats went ahead anyway without a single Republican vote, claiming that Obamacare would not cost a penny and that it would be easy for government to do. Now when it is seen as factual that Republicans were right all along, you bring up stupid arguments like this one? It only shows that the author of this article has no clue to what a Republican actually thinks. Next time, try asking a Republican instead of just mocking and scoffing at them and thereby expose a gross misunderstanding of the issues involved.

  11. You know what consumers of software and new online business’ are called? Beta testers. You would think that none of the people reporting on this new program had ever bought new or a updated release of a Window’s product. What do these people think all those ‘Service Packs’ releases and updates are about. Get a grip, please.

    The fact that a company with a bad track record that spent a lot of lobbying money got the contract is or should be criminal but it’s par for the course. What happened to KBR amid all the bad publicity about troop deaths by electrocution? They got a big new contract. Let’s not look all shocked and horrified by business as usual.

    Fix the bugs, hire some more techs, push the deadline for sign up back another 6 months and see how it goes. Also, the Federal government should hire facilitators and telephone helpers in the states where the state government has starved that aspect of the plan or imposed burdensome licencing requirements to make sure that there is little assistance for interested citizens.

    It’s too early to be running around screaming ‘the sky is falling’ no matter how much some may want to.

    “States find new ways to resist health law”

    “More than a dozen states have imposed licensing rules and limits on these helpers, ….”

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-28/national/41538465_1_health-care-law-more-than-dozen-states-several-republican-led-states

  12. “She failed and it is not clear what it takes to get fired anymore in government.”

    That is really why it is a fiasco to make the federal government provide health care. If the federal government wants to make sure everyone has health care, they should have just helped subsidize all the county health care providers who had already been doing a great job. At the most, just open up health clinics on their own that provide the kind of service they think should be provided, and let people choose. Instead they force people to sign up and then talk about how popular their program is. It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Force people to sign up and then remark about how great their program is based upon the number of people visiting their website. How about make it completely voluntary and see how many want your product?

    If this website had been established by a private firm seeking a profit, lots of people would have been fired long before opening day.

  13. The number of 6 is from some notes, not actual data but the media now seems happy to report anything without backing it up with true data.

  14. Sheryl Atkisson, a very good reporter for CBS, who the administration harassed over Benghazi, reported yesterday, 248 people signed up on the first 2 days. Marilyn Tavenner lied just like Holder, Clapper, etc. There is a running tally of people signed up. Unfortunately for Obamacare, that’s rthe one aspect of the website THAT IS WORKING.

  15. “The company, which has a close friend of the First Lady among its top executives,”………….
    A more interesting connection is the one to Rick Perry:

    Perry Beneficiary Behind Federal Health Exchange Website, by Alexa Ura
    http://www.texastribune.org
    Watchdog group Texans for Public Justice found that CGI Group, the lead technology contractor behind the problem-ridden Healthcare.gov, received $1.8 million from Gov. Rick Perry through the deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund in 2011.

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