Commentary Magazine


Topic: Enroll America

Is Anything the White House Said About ObamaCare True?

Keeping up to date on all the ObamaCare revelations, one could be forgiven for wondering: Is anything the administration has said about the health-care reform plan true? The promises underpinning the passage of the law certainly weren’t true. But there seems to be an almost compulsive nature to the denial of reality.

The latest example comes from the Washington Post, which reports that since the early enrollment numbers on the ObamaCare exchanges are far below their targets–as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday–the administration has made a decision on how to present those numbers to the public: they will essentially just make them up. They will be based on a true story, as movie taglines often say. But that’s the closest they’ll get to the truth if the administration pursues this tactic:

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Keeping up to date on all the ObamaCare revelations, one could be forgiven for wondering: Is anything the administration has said about the health-care reform plan true? The promises underpinning the passage of the law certainly weren’t true. But there seems to be an almost compulsive nature to the denial of reality.

The latest example comes from the Washington Post, which reports that since the early enrollment numbers on the ObamaCare exchanges are far below their targets–as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday–the administration has made a decision on how to present those numbers to the public: they will essentially just make them up. They will be based on a true story, as movie taglines often say. But that’s the closest they’ll get to the truth if the administration pursues this tactic:

The fight over how to define the new health law’s success is coming down to one question: Who counts as an Obamacare enrollee?

Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submited  a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.

When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as  those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.

“In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace,” said an administration official, who requested anonymity to frankly describe the methodology.

There are a couple of aspects to this that would be hilarious if it weren’t about the federal government using your money to wreck your health care. You have to love terming the definition of an enrollee as “expansive.” That is quite generous. The Obama administration’s definition of an enrollee is not so much “expansive” as it is false. We can (and should) dispense with the Orwellian language. The administration will count those who have purchased a plan and those who haven’t purchased a plan as enrollees.

It’s a scam, and it starts to get creepy after a while, as indicated by the other darkly humorous part in that write-up, in the anonymous administration official’s quote about the enrollee definition. It’s unclear whether the scare quotes around “enrollment” were put there by the source (say, in an email to the reporter) or by the Post. Either way, the quotes indicate that the Department of Health and Human Services has hired Inigo Montoya: the government doesn’t think that word means what you think it means.

In fact, it means whatever the government decides it means. It’s a truly postmodern health-care system now.

Conservatives have long been concerned that the expansion of Medicaid and the onerous regulations put on insurance companies would crowd the private sphere out of health care. But at least with regard to fraud, the government has invited plenty of competition from the private sector.

CBS reports that “the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security. Those failures could lead to identity theft among buying insurance. The project manager testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors, but CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.”

The project manager, Henry Chao, testified that he was never shown an internal memo warning of the security risks to the federal website. That memo gave deadlines, apparently, of mid-2014 and 2015 to have those security weaknesses fixed. So if you use the federal health-care website to sign up for insurance, your personal information may–at the earliest, and we all know how the government treats deadlines–be secure in a couple of years. Possibly.

If you don’t want to feed your personal information directly to identity thieves, you can use a government “navigator” to put your private information at great risk. As John Fund reports on James O’Keefe’s latest string of investigations, the government’s health-care “navigators” can provide you will all sorts of technical support–they can help you defraud the government, or help you get defrauded yourself, whatever you’re in the mood for. The government is also relying on the efforts of groups like Enroll America, who seem to have wandered a bit from the purpose of their “enrollment” mission:

Enroll America, O’Keefe reports, appears to be sharing data and working directly with an explicitly political group called Battleground Texas, activities that he notes “are prohibited unless certain conditions are met.” Adrian Bell, the regional field director for Battleground Texas, proudly notes the group was “started by President Obama’s national field director” and is “dedicated to turning Texas blue.”

So your personal information is being processed by people who haven’t passed a background check into a computer system wide open to identity thieves and which will then be available to the group trying to win elections for Democrats. Oh, and those enrollment figures Kathleen Sebelius says the administration didn’t have? They had them.

Dishonesty from top to bottom. If you removed the fraud from ObamaCare, it’s unclear if there would be anything left.

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The Scandals and ObamaCare

The New York Times is worried about the IRS scandal–but not for the reasons that have alarmed most Americans. Since the paper actually encouraged the government to target conservative organizations for prejudicial treatment last year, its response to the outrageous conduct that even the White House condemned has been somewhat equivocal, rather than expressing the fears that others feel about the tax agency involving itself in partisan politics. What they’re really scared about, though, is the possibility that anger about the IRS and big government in general that this and other administration scandals have engendered will make it more difficult to implement ObamaCare. Though the Times’s editorial page is usually wrong about most issues, they’re right on target on this score.

That’s exactly why congressional Republicans shouldn’t back away from the idea of attempting to separate the IRS from the role the bill has them playing in rolling out this vast expansion of government power. Similarly, they should also investigate the efforts of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to shake down corporations in order to get them to contribute to a campaign to pressure people to enroll in the act’s health exchanges.

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The New York Times is worried about the IRS scandal–but not for the reasons that have alarmed most Americans. Since the paper actually encouraged the government to target conservative organizations for prejudicial treatment last year, its response to the outrageous conduct that even the White House condemned has been somewhat equivocal, rather than expressing the fears that others feel about the tax agency involving itself in partisan politics. What they’re really scared about, though, is the possibility that anger about the IRS and big government in general that this and other administration scandals have engendered will make it more difficult to implement ObamaCare. Though the Times’s editorial page is usually wrong about most issues, they’re right on target on this score.

That’s exactly why congressional Republicans shouldn’t back away from the idea of attempting to separate the IRS from the role the bill has them playing in rolling out this vast expansion of government power. Similarly, they should also investigate the efforts of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to shake down corporations in order to get them to contribute to a campaign to pressure people to enroll in the act’s health exchanges.

The IRS is tasked by the poorly named Affordable Care Act to scour the tax returns of citizens and businesses to determine which Americans will be fined for failing to buy insurance. Given the fact that the same person who presided over the IRS department that engaged in political targeting is now tasked with running the ObamaCare inquisition, Republicans would do well to not just ask about that appointment but to separate the tax agency from the health care boondoggle. Indeed, after provoking the justified derision of the country for their three-dozen futile attempts to repeal ObamaCare, the GOP should seize on this issue as a way to engage more than just conservative partisans in the need to rethink the bill.

A government that can’t be trusted to handle the processing of tax exemption applications without using political criteria that just happens to conform with the president’s prejudices and which spies on journalists with impunity simply isn’t capable of pulling off what is already a health care fiasco in a fair manner.

In that context, Sebelius’s outrageous stunt in which companies are being strong-armed to pay for ObamaCare propaganda is another reason why Congress must step in. The Enroll America campaign is merely a new branch of the same old Obama campaign fundraising machine. The spectacle of current and former government officials shaking down private businesses to pay for ads portraying the president’s signature legislation as a panacea is more than unseemly. It is a scandal in its own right that crosses a line that shouldn’t even be approached. Yet the Times thinks it’s all worth it because shoving ObamaCare down the nation’s throat is worth any moral or ethical compromise.

This shows again that, contrary to the pleas of the Times and other liberal organs, the spate of scandals isn’t a distraction from implementing the president’s second-term agenda. They are a reminder that the connection between these ethical shortcomings and the president’s big government to-do list is a good reason to slow down the rush toward health care Armageddon. 

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