Politico Lets Admin Turn Obamacare's 7 Million Enrollment Target Into 'Suggestions'

January 5th, 2014 8:58 PM

In June, the Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn filed a report with the following headline: "Kathleen Sebelius: Exchange enrollment goal is 7 million by end of March." She reported in her first two paragraphs that "7 million" is "how many people the Obama administration hopes to enroll in its new health insurance marketplaces by the end of March."

Apparently that clearly expressed target isn't supposed to matter now, and the White House is trying to pretend that it never existed. Of course, the press, including the Politico, has been helping them. 

On December 11, Carrie Budoff Brown and Jason Millman "The White House is now trying to affix another label to the estimate: meaningless," but that it might be too late. It turned out not to be too late for Politico's David Nather, who on January 1 turned the target into "suggestions" in an item which hysterically opened by claiming that "Obamacare just got real" (bolds are mine throughout this post):

For Obamacare, it’s finally showtime


Obamacare just got real.

Sure, there were some new rules and benefits over the last few years, but that was just a warmup. Starting today, all of the big pieces of the Affordable Care Act — the biggest domestic achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency and one of the most far-reaching changes in American social policy in decades — go into effect. And Americans will start to see, for better or worse, how the law really works.

Private health coverage starts for more than 2 million Americans who managed to get through that federal enrollment website or the state-run versions. People with pre-existing conditions can’t be turned down anymore. Subsidies will start to help low- and middle-income people pay for their insurance.

... The open enrollment period for 2014 ends on March 31, so there could be another wave of last-minute signups. But the administration has been backing away from its early suggestions that 7 million people would be the goal for the exchanges — a number that came from the Congressional Budget Office estimate of how many people would enroll in the first year.

Instead, they’re now saying that even a smaller number would be fine, as long as there are enough young and healthy people to keep the health plans financially stable.

As noted earlier, Sebelius undeniably took ownership of the target seven months ago.

Noah Rothman at Mediaite has had more than his fill of this misdirecting garbage (links are in original):

White House Insults Nation’s Intelligence by Pretending Obamacare Enrollment Goal Never Existed

Appearing on MSNBC on Tuesday, White House health care adviser Phil Schiliro asserted that the White House never had a target number of Affordable Care Act enrollees. The widely circulated figure of 7 million – a figure which has been cited and repeated regularly by the press and members of the administration, was never their number, Schiliro asserted.

“That was never our target number,” he insisted. “That was a target that was put out by the Congressional Budget Office and has become the accepted number.”

He should have informed Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius of this development.Washington Times reporter David Sherfinski notes that Sebelius said “7 million is a realistic target” in June. She repeated this claim in an interview with NBC News in last September. “I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March, 2014,” Sebelius insisted.

Indeed, the White House has been laying the groundwork for the dismissal of the CBO’s projected enrollment floor, at which point the ACA would be financially stable, for months. In late November, theWashington Post’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff, two preferred channels through which the administration funnels information about the ACA’s ever-shifting mandates and deadlines, reported that the 7 million mark was never a White House target.

According to Klein, the White House has their own metric to determine the success of the ACA — the mix of enrollees ...

Rothman goes on to report that Obamacare is also on track to flunk the "mix of enrollees" test.

I guess the next step will be, "We were just looking for a few million ... we mean 2 million ... we mean several hundred thousand people who have a pulse and fog a mirror when they breathe." It seems we can pretty much count on the press to go along with whatever narrative shift occurs.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.