Joe Biden put a Bidenesque spin on the effort to fix Healthcare.gov on Monday, while attempting to promise that the administration would fix the site in time for Americans to register for health insurance on the federal exchange. There are many variations on what it means for something to be "so Biden." In this case, it means "off-message." Speaking to a group of volunteers in Houston who are helping Americans enroll in healthcare through the exchange, Biden said that "The truth is, we’re going to fix it," referring to the Healthcare.gov site. He added, "God willing."
It has not been the best day for the administration's message on Healthcare.gov. Press secretary Jay Carney confirmed a report in the The Washington Post that the administration's new bar for success for the site is if it's able to enroll 80 percent of the people who try to sign up online by November 30th. "I think the way to look at that figure is that of, say, 10 who go on the system, roughly two won't get through the system," Carney said, adding that he expects there will be three categories of users who will fail to enroll: those with complex family arrangements, the tech illiterate, and "those who experience technical difficulties." That internal goal of an 80 percent success rate is apparently why the administration's new talking point has been that the site would work by November 30th for the "vast majority of users."
Meanwhile, a years-long trend of Americans believing that the government should not be responsible for making sure all Americans have access to health coverage has continued to go up. In a Monday Gallup poll, 56 percent of U.S. adults said they did not believe it was the government's responsibility to ensure access to care. Most of that shift has come from Republicans and independents, though as Gallup notes, their opposition predates the Affordable Care Act:
Because Americans have to enroll in the exchanges by December 15th in order to get coverage by the first of the year, the administration has been considering a few options to enroll more Americans if, against Biden, God is not willing to throw the site a bone. On Monday, the administration indicated that it was considering a plan that would allow insurance companies to directly sign up individuals who qualify for a subsidy. That idea began as a suggestion by the companies themselves. As we've explained in the past, however, the logistics of actually allowing that to happen are extremely complicated.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.