The Obama administration has operatives out in full-force, pledging to be as transparent as possible about Obamacare, all the while refusing to talk about how many people have signed up on HealthCare.gov so far.
It’s not an easy time to argue that Obamacare’s been especially transparent. Americans already didn’t trust the administration on Obamacare — approval of the health-care law reached an all-time low before the administration was hit several scandals. At 37 percent approval, it’s even lower than in 2013, just after President Barack Obama was infamously caught lying about one of Obamacare’s main promises — that if you liked your plan, you could keep it.
Obamacare adviser Jonathan Gruber was discovered coming right out and saying Obamacare was written intentionally to hide several unsavory provisions from the public — a duplicity made possible by “the stupidity of the American voter.” Just weeks later, under new Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell’s leadership, HHS twice released Obamacare enrollment numbers that were flat-out wrong — and that conveniently pushed enrollment over the administration’s goal for the first year of the health-care law.
Everyone from White House and HHS spokesmen to Burwell to Sebelius has disowned Gruber, castigated the bogus enrollment totals as a math mistake and pledged that they’re being transparent. But HHS has still failed to do the simplest thing to show that it really is committed to being transparent about Obamacare this time: release enrollment totals, complete with state- and plan-specific data to back it up.
Burwell touted that 100,000 applications were submitted on the first day of open enrollment. But she didn’t release any data with the announcement. The last two times HHS and sub-agency the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released enrollment totals without accompanying data, the numbers were false.
And HHS hasn’t given an update since, despite requests from multiple media outlets. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services never responded to The Daily Caller’s request for an updated enrollment total or for the date when CMS does plan to update the public.
The initial release — assuming it was correct — shows that HHS is capable of giving the public enrollment updates. States are doing it, as well, including those that struggled as much or more than HealthCare.gov last year. Massachusetts, which built a whole new Obamacare exchange in a year, is releasing enrollment updates every single day.
In all, eight of fourteen state-run exchanges have already released enrollment updates during this enrollment period. Washington State had to shut down its operations on the first day of open enrollment because it was calculating subsidies incorrectly, and somehow they’ve managed to come out with an enrollment update. California, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Colorado and Kentucky have all managed to release data about the number of new customers so far.
But HHS hasn’t released a detailed enrollment update since May. As a rule, during the last open enrollment period, the Obama administration released enrollment data once a month — and of course, whenever they had something good to announce. There was no impromptu first-day check-in; the first day of the last open enrollment period brought in just six customers.
This time, enrollment is better. It’s unclear why the administration has refused to release an enrollment update since day two — or why they stopped issuing detailed reports last spring at all. Many liberals and conservatives alike called for the monthly updates to continue.
The administration’s locked lips on enrollment figures not only raises suspicions, it opens the door to making more mistakes. When HHS released two false enrollment totals sans data, it took congressional investigators at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from September to November to pry the real data out of the Obamacare agency. Even after HHS fessed up to what they called a math mistake, the agency didn’t release any documents, data or numbers to the public.
Had HHS continued to release enrollment reports backed up by actual data, the public wouldn’t have been misled for months about the real number of Obamacare customers.
The administration’s refusal to release any further numbers after the first bit of good PR when they’re clearly capable of doing so puts a big dent in Obamacare officials’ many assurances of ‘transparency.’