The Conversation

Sec. Sebelius Claims the President Didn't Know About Looming Train Wreck

We've now reached the cover up stage of the Obamacare roll out. In a CNN interview with Sanjay Gupta, Sebelius claims the President didn't know about the problems prior to the launch.

GUPTA: The president did say that he was angry about this. I mean, do you know when he first knew that there was a problem?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days

GUPTA: So not before that though?

SEBELIUS: No.

According to multiple reporters published at the NY Times and elsewhere, people at HHS were well aware the project was in trouble for weeks if not months prior to Oct. 1. Here's the NY Times' take:

Confidential progress reports from the Health and Human Services Department show that senior officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time, blaming delayed regulations, a lack of resources and other factors.

[...]

By early this year, people inside and outside the federal bureaucracy were raising red flags. “We foresee a train wreck,” an insurance executive working on information technology said in a February interview.

So people inside and outside HHS, including "senior officials" were well aware this was a disaster waiting to happen. The President's signature achievement lay in the balance but we are being told by Sec. Sebelius that he took a no-peeking approach to the outcome.

Back in April, in the midst of rising panic about the deadline, Sec. Sebelius told the House Ways and Means Committee that all was well with the implementation and that no backup plan was needed. We know now that she had good reason not to think this was true.

With a month left to go before the deadline, the Post reports that a "testing group urged agency officials not to launch it nationwide because it was still riddled with problems." Somehow we are supposed to now believe that with all this last minute urging to change the deadline, word never made it to the White House. CMS and HHS just decided to chart a course forward over all objections without any input from the White House. This is, to put it mildly, highly implausible.


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