Politico Buries Crucial Caveats in Happy Talk Obamacare 'Surge' Story

Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do,
You gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?
  ---"Happy Talk" from "South Pacific."

Carrie Budoff Brown was bubbling over with joy about a supposed Obamacare "surge" in her Politico article. Yes, supposedly massive new Obamacare numbers were suddenly showing up in the past few days. But what did they really mean? Fortunately for those praying for Obamacare success, Brown did not burst that joy bubble until well into the article with crucial caveats to the "surge" numbers. First let us look at the Happy Talk Brown presents at the beginning of the article before we delve into the buried inconvenient truths:

About 29,000 people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov on Sunday and Monday — a figure that surpasses the total for the whole month of October, an official familiar with the program told POLITICO.

The quickened pace of enrollments came as the White House hit its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to fix the troubled Affordable Care Act website.

The preliminary numbers for the two-day period provide the clearest evidence yet that the federal exchange is on the mend. About 26,000 people selected a health plan during the October and about 100,000 people did so in November, the official said.

Further along in the article comes this downer:

Although the site is performing much better for consumers, insurance industry officials have said they continue to receive garbled reports on who is enrolling in their plans. The so-called back-end problems with the site could cause headaches for consumers when they attempt to claim their benefits on Jan. 1 if insurers continue to receive incomplete information.

And the worst news is saved for the last sentence:

The 29,000 enrollees for Sunday and Monday reflect individuals who have chosen a health plan, but they have not necessarily paid for the first month’s premium because coverage doesn’t begin until Jan. 1.

Actually they have probably not paid for the first month's premium since no payment system has even been set up yet. Therefore those 29,000 "enrollees" continue to remain in Looky Lou status.

And who would consider this Happy Talk article worthy of  an Obamacare cheerleading session? Why, Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post who leaped upon this article faster than a hungry puppy snapping up a tasty morsel:

Politico reported moments ago that 29,000 people have enrolled in coverage through HealthCare.gov since Sunday, when a big set of fixes went into place. That would beat out the 26,000 people who purchased coverage in October.

"Moments ago?" Sheesh! What do you do, Sarah? Type "Obamacare" into Google Search and hit the refresh button every few seconds while praying that any tiny bit of supposed good news about that program flop shows up?

A brief moment of ugly reality seeps in for Kliff before she regresses back to her own Obamacare Happy Talk:

Of course, what they did not project were crippling technical problems in the health law's first two months, which would make it near impossible for many to purchase coverage. The administration initially expected that about a half-million people would sign up in October. It's fair to say they did not come anywhere near that goal.

Whether that initial miss will actually matter for total enrollment numbers remains to be seen. My own reporting suggests it really won't: The people out there who want health insurance are pretty hellbent on getting it...

And Puppy Kliff is hellbent on continuing to entertain us by enthusiastically swallowing down even the smallest of Obamacare treats no matter how lacking in actual nutritional value.

Politico ObamaCare Sarah Kliff
P.J. Gladnick's picture