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Monday, December 2, 2013

ObamaCare Mission Accomplished -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal

The system isn't working and the website isn't fixed.

Great news: The White House says that Healthcare.gov and the 36 federally run insurance exchanges are finally good to go. The only thing missing from Sunday's relentlessly upbeat progress report was President Obama in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Sunday's eight-page report was intended to meet Mr. Obama's deadline for fixing the site after its October 1 debut was a calamity. But the more important goal was political—namely, claiming enough progress to prevent Democrats on Capitol Hill from joining the GOP demand for delaying the individual mandate to buy insurance or even the entire program. 

Most Democrats are eager to believe any good news, which may explain why the Sunday report is so short on basic information. The eight pages are heavy on charts with unverifiable claims—more than 400 "cumulative software fixes"!—and the Health and Human Services Department declares that "we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users."

 This weekend miracle defies other evidence, such as the recent admission by an HHS official that 30% to 40% of the exchanges are still unfinished. Much of this involves the "back end" of the exchange operation that provides information to insurers but that consumers don't see. In a pre-Thanksgiving news dump, HHS even gave up on the federal exchanges for small business and delayed those for a year.
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