Leaked Memos Reveal that Federal Health Officials Knew Exactly How Many People Enrolled During Obamacare’s Opening Days, Despite Administration Claims to the Contrary

In the opening days of
Obamacare’s October 1 launch, federal officials touted high
web-traffic numbers, but repeatedly refused to provide enrollment
data for the federally facilitated exchanges.

On October 3, White House spokesperson Jay Carney, pressed for
enrollment numbers,
, “No, we don’t have that data.” On October 7, in an
appearance on the Daily Show, Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius repeated the claim when questioned about
enrollment: “I can’t tell you,” she said, “because I don’t

But that simply wasn’t true—at least not during the first few

Leaked meeting notes from high-level war room briefings inside
the federal health bureaucracy on October 2 and October 3 report
that federal officials were aware of the exact number of federal
enrollees on the first and second days in which the exchanges were

as seemed likely at the time
, it turns out that the numbers
were very, very low.

According to the
, which were released by the House Committee on Oversight
& Government Reform and taken from daily briefings in the
Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, the
federal office directly in charge of the exchanges, there were just
six successful enrollments across the 36 federal exchanges on
launch day.

The second day was a little better. By the morning of October 3,
officials reported that the number had reached triple digits on the
second day of operation. “As of yesterday, there were 248
enrollments,” it says, with the enrollment figure in bold. Later
that same day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told
reporters asking for enrollment figures that “we do not have that

It’s possible that Carney didn’t have the numbers at the time.
And I suppose it’s even possible that, four days later, HHS
Secretary Sebelius hadn’t seen the numbers either. But that
explanation is not particularly believable, especially in the case
of Sebelius, whose is the nation’s top health bureaucrat and is
therefore expected to keep informed of such things. And on the
vanishingly small chance that it is true that neither Sebelius nor
Carney were at all aware of the enrollment numbers themselves, then
that reveals that both remained, perhaps by choice, clueless and
out of the loop regarding crucial details about Obamacare’s

HHS has attempted to drum up uncertainty about the figures in
the leaked documents. “These appear to be notes, they do not
include official enrollment statistics,” an HHS spokesperson said
in a statement, according to The Washington Post. But
while the notes do mention that some insurers didn’t get the
enrollment forms they were expected to receive, they express no
doubts about the specific enrollment numbers presented. Indeed, the
notes from the first day’s meeting list exactly which insurers have
reported successful enrollments. 

The more likely explanation here is that Carney and Sebelius
simply lied because the enrollment numbers were embarrassingly

These early denials came while  top administration
officials were still
that the problem with the exchanges was too much
traffic, and major improvements in the exchanges were right around
the corner. They hoped that the exchange problems would be resolved
rapidly, and didn’t want to reveal how poorly the launch had
gone—which might generate more bad press, and perhaps scare more
people away. It’s possible, in other words, that the denials were a
result of cluelessness and incompetence—but more plausible that
federal officials knowingly lied because it was convenient for
their purposes.  

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/01/leaked-memos-reveal-that-federal-health

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