Earlier this month, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, widely credited with being one of the “architects” of Obamacare, said on Fox News Sunday that there was no need to delay the individual mandate penalties for failing to carry health insurance–unless the Obamacare website, healthcare.gov, was not operational by Nov. 30. With the Obama administration now admitting the website will not be ready, will Dr. Emanuel call for delay?
Here is the exchange from Fox News Sunday, with host Chris Wallace asking Dr. Emanuel to respond to a suggestion by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) that the individual mandate be delayed because of the website:
SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-MONT.: Maybe we should start thinking about penalizing the penalties. It’s not right to penalize people for mistakes that the government’s made because the exchange isn’t working.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: Should the penalties be delayed beyond March 31st?
EMANUEL: No, they should not be delayed beyond March 31st. The Web site is working by November 30th, people then will have a full four months to sign up and that’s no reason to delay them, and I don’t think you can prejudge now. If it’s not adequately working by November 30th, that’s a whole new question. But it’s way premature to talk about it.
Since that interview, the White House has reset its goal as ensuring that the website works for 80% of users, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services technical officer has testified before Congress that a large part of the website, including the payment system, has yet to be completed. There is almost no chance that healthcare.gov will be working adequately, much less fully, by the Nov. 30 deadline, as promised.
The initial numbers released by the government indicate that, at beast, roughly 100,000 Americans have signed up for Obamacare–though it is not clear how many have actually enrolled, i.e. purchased insurance. President Obama himself urged activists in his Organizing for Action lobbying group to use postal and phone applications to register people for Obamacare. He did not sound hopeful that the website would be fixed.
Given his own deadline for having the website up and running, it would seem that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who has been vocal about the need to fix other deficiencies in the system, should now demand a delay as well.