ObamaCare Clusterfuck: The ObamaCare rollout isn't LIKE a political campaign. It IS a political campaign
(Yes, I made that call [lambert blushes modestly] months ago: 2013-05-12*; 2013-05-24; 2013-05-29**) Pravda's Mr. Annie Lowrey and Sara Kliff now make the same call, and mix some good detail in with the hagiography:
Obama’s last campaign: Inside the White House plan to sell Obamacare
Turnout has been Simas’s job for years now. As director of public-opinion research and polling for President Obama’s reelection campaign, Simas was at the center of the effort to find and persuade young and minority voters to go to the polls like they did in 2008. ...
Now Simas, a sad-eyed Massachusetts native with a facility for PowerPoints [no doubt] needs to reach those same groups again — with a much harder ask [note donor/fundraising jargon]. This time, he doesn’t just need them to vote. He needs them to buy [a defective product,] health insurance, and, in some cases, spend hundreds of dollars a month for it [while not substantially reducing their risk of bankruptcy, one of the originaj justifications for the law]. If they don’t, the new insurance marketplaces [as opposed to the actual delivery of "Care," one notes] — the absolute core of Obamacare — will be filled with older, sicker people, and premiums will skyrocket. And if that happens, the law will fail.
Notice that Pravda -- and Simas, the Obama administration, and the Obots -- are all thinking of ObamaCare in actuarial terms: The not-yet-sick and not-yet-old pay for the sick and the old. However, they are not framing their solution as an intergenerational compact, and they are not framing it as a guarantee of health for all.
How many younger people are needed each year to hold down premiums depends on how many people sign up for the marketplaces. If the total this year is 7 million people, then about 2.7 million need to be in the 18-to-35 set.
This, then, is the crux of Obamacare’s challenge: Can the federal government persuade young, healthy people to buy health insurance?
Simas is focusing his formidable analytical resources on understanding this group. He begins clicking through a Powerpoint that holds reams of data on these young adults. “What do we know about them?” he says. “They’re overwhelmingly male.” Click. “They’re majority nonwhite.” Click. “One out of every three lives in California, Florida or Texas.” Click. “We have census maps breaking this down into the smallest geographic units.”
In other words, the match between ObamaCare's target demographic and Obama's key constituents is pretty solid.
A couple more clicks and Simas is showing which television channels they like to watch (Spike TV, among others), which social-media platforms they use (Twitter, Facebook) and who they listen to (“No surprise. It’s mom.”). “We can figure out the message that works best for this group,” Simas says.
The focus on young, minority voters. The heavy reliance on microtargeting. The enthusiasm about nontraditional communications channels. The analytics-rich modeling. It sounds like the Obama campaign.
The unterbussen (example). Yes, it sounds like the Obama campaign.
Because at this point we remember those that the ObamaCare Campaign will not be targeting: "the passive & disengaged", 23% of whom have chronic conditions, 82% would qualify for subsidies, 43% are women, only 62% have Internet connections, and who do not respond to mass media appeals, perhaps because they have no tolerance for bullshit. There is, apparently, "no message" Simas can work out "for this group."
At this point, any serious data modeler will be reminded of The Parable Of The Drunk Looking Under the Streetlamp For His Keys ("It's too dark anywhere else!").
And any serious voter who remembers 2008 will see, yet again, Obama throwing whole classes of citizens under the bus. He just can't help himself, can he?
This is where Obama officials say their campaign experience — and their candidate — gives them an advantage. The profile of the people they’re trying to entice into the exchanges almost perfectly matches the profile of Obama voters. And they are confident they know how to talk to those voters.
From selling "hope and change" to selling insurance. Sad.
And now the other thing my hair was been on fire about: The state of ObamaCare's IT:
Even the most tuned-in health-care consultants have trouble predicting whether the federal government can get the law off the ground.
“It’s pretty much a black box,” Deloitte’s Cheryl Smith said of the technology that powers the health law. “They tell us, ‘It’s freakishly on schedule.’ They use those exact words. But only the people who work in this can tell you if it’s actually running on time.”
So, either (a) triaging*** worked, or (b) the "freakishness" comes from bullshit flowing upward, or (c) the "freakishness" comes because most of the system has been fake from the beginning and most of it will be done on paper. Or some combination of all three!
“Everybody is having sleepless nights given the magnitude of the effort and the short amount of time,” said Kevin Walsh, a senior executive at Xerox [See here, here, and here; and the brochure] working with multiple states on health plan implementation. “It’s like building a bridge from both ends and hoping, in the end, they connect.”
When Walsh wants to explain the administration’s massive challenge, he uses a one-page flowchart that outlines eight steps, six government agencies and the back-end technology involved in getting someone enrolled.
I wish I had a copy of that flowchart. Readers?
There are three rows of boxes highlighting crucial actions: Information the federal government needs to verify, or a step a consumer must take. The chart is meant to simplify, but it has so many arrows — pointing up, down, left and right — it hurts just to look at it.
Behind all those boxes sits perhaps the most difficult and technical task of health reform: The construction of the federal government’s massive data hub, an unprecedented trove of income, citizenship and personal information about millions of Americans. This is the engine that will power federal decisions about who qualifies for which health law programs. If it doesn’t work, neither does the rest of the health care law.
This is the same hub Sebelius said was "basically built and paid for" back in April. So either (a) Sebelius was lying, or (b) Sebelius thought buying the hardware was enough, or (c) the whole think is fake (and systems that are "freakishly on schedule" tend not to have much behind them).
The administration has recently scaled back the hub’s workload for the first year. It won’t help states verify applicants’ claims that they do not receive employer- sponsored insurance, for instance. When a consumer claims to have an income wildly different from what the federal data hub suggests, the marketplace, in most cases, will take the consumer’s word for it.
“I read that as an admission that not all of the components of the hub are working,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a health-policy researcher at George Washington University who supports the law.
Do note, although Klein and Kliff do not, that if you want to market to youth, you've got to have an online product that works. This fact ties the two otherwise disconnected parts of their article together:
What's one thing you know about young people today, maybe the most obvious thing? That's right: They're totally wired, totally digital, totally computer-savvy. (They are also said by some to multi-task and have very short attention spans.)
So if you had an Internet product, and you wanted to turn young people off, right at the point of purchase, what would you do? That's right: You'd build a platform that was "buggy," with a "user experience" that "needs improvement," that has "glitches," and that will take three years to straighten out.
Which, my friends, is exactly what ObamaCare's exchanges are going to be like, according to Rahm Emmanuel's little brother. Yikes.
Because although Simas, and the Obama administration, and the Obots, think it's all about campaigning, at some point you've got to start governing. You've got to deliver.
NOTE * This is my early call; so far as I know, there was no mainstream media support at all for this idea when I posted.
NOTE ** Media support.
NOTE *** Abandoning big hunks of functionality to make deadline. "We can't finish your house on time unless we redefine 'finish' to mean 'no plumbing.' How's that sound to you?"