March 31st, 2014
09:19 AM ET
9 years ago

Inside Politics: D-Day for Obamacare

It’s Monday, March 31. Obamacare D-Day.

If you have procrastinated over the past six months and haven’t tried to log on to get insurance before today, you might encounter some hiccups.

The website had been functioning smoothly of late, but Monday morning, some users encountered a message that read, “The system isn’t available at the moment. We're currently performing maintenance. Please try again later.”

There’s not too much “later” left. CNN's Jim Acosta  reported Monday the site was unavailable in the early morning hours when a scheduled maintenance ran too long. It appeared by 8:30 that the site was again functioning, but record traffic slowed the site down and a queuing system was in place so that some visitors had to wait to proceed to their state’s enrollment section.

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The waits continued throughout the morning and in the afternoon HHS released a statement explaining the site was having trouble keeping up with last-minute traffic and people trying to log on for the first time.

"We are experiencing record volume on today," said spokeswoman Joanne Peters in a statement. " 1.2 million visits through noon and 125k plus concurrent users at peak so far today.  The waiting room is up to meet demand. Consumers may wait, or may leave their email and they will be invited back."

If you don’t have health insurance by today - and you haven’t started the process to get it - there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a fine during tax time next year.

Website issues on Obamacare deadline day

Consumers who attempt to sign up on the final day of enrollment but experience technical problems will be given a few additional days to complete the process, and administration official told CNN's Acosta.

Beyond the last day hiccups, there are two issues to chart on Obamacare: the policy and the politics. And they seem to run at crosscurrents.

Obamacare Policy

From a policy standpoint, millions of people have signed up, which would seem to make the program viable in the short term. But the success of the law will be charted in the coming years as insurance companies reconfigure premiums and respond to the ratio of healthy to sick enrollees in their broad new insurance pools. Only then will we know if this grand experiment will do anything to control the cost of health care and come closer to achieving universal coverage.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency in charge of implementing the law, announced Sunday that weekend traffic to the federal site had spiked with more than 2 million visits. A call center had received more than 2.5 million calls over the past week.

More than 6 million enrollments reported by the administration last week won’t be enough for the people who oppose the law on principle. One Republican senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, himself a doctor, said he doesn’t believe the 6 million figure anyway.

"I don't think it means anything. … I think they're cooking the books on this," he said on "Fox News Sunday.”

Cooking the books is quite an allegation, and there’s no evidence to suggest that exactly. But it is true the administration hasn’t given out all of the Obamacare enrollment data it surely must have.

The other policy element to watch is how Obamacare works in different states. Enrollment has been much higher - predominantly in blue states - where governors and legislatures set up their own exchanges. It could end up being a bigger policy success in these places than in places - many of them red states - where governors continue to fight the law and the exchanges are run by the federal government.'

Why 6 million enrollments tells us very little about the health of Obamacare

CNN Money: Three measures of Obamacare's success

Obamacare Politics

From a political standpoint, Democrats have already paid a huge political price for this law, and if forecasts are true for a good year for Republicans in the coming midterm elections, Democrats will continue to pay. That’s because 6 million or 7 million enrollments won’t do much to change the way most people feel about the law.

Support (or opposition) to the law seems to have gelled. Between 35% and 40% or so of Americans like the law. A little more than half of Americans don’t like it. But the people who don’t like it include the 10% or so who don’t think it goes far enough. These numbers have played out, with slight differences, in most of the recent polls on the issue.

Here is CNN’s poll from earlier this month.

And there is one other key point in the polling data. Even though half of Americans oppose the law, less than a third - 29% in the most recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - want it repealed.

But the conservatives who don’t like the law don’t like it a lot more than liberals support it.

Bill Clinton gave his advice to Democrats in an interview with Real Clear Politics over the weekend. His party has been too timid in dealing with the health law and its unpopularity, he said. They shouldn’t run away from their signature achievement.

"I thought that Democrats had a tendency to shy away from things they had done that were unpopular, (and) talk about positions they had that were popular. And that my own experience had convinced me - going back to '94 and even more when I was governor - that that was always a terrible mistake. That you had to turn in toward all controversies and embrace them - even if you said you were wrong or a mistake was made. You couldn't not deal with it."

How will Democrats deal with Obamacare? In the Senate, moderate Democrats have said they’ll introduce a series of “fixes” to the health care law. But Republicans have been more intent on larger-scale changes and might not be willing to work to improve a law they entirely oppose.

Read More: Democrats unveil agenda aimed at keeping the Senate

Filed under: Inside Politics • Obamacare
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    ..... The government says YOU WILL have the insurance WE say you will have, you WILL have a limited access to doctors and hospitals, but you WILL have insurance.
    The way it was before:
    Insurance greed says you CANNOT have insurance at ANY price if we don't like the way you get sick.
    Insurance greed says you CANNOT have insurance at ALL if you are poor.
    Insurance greed says you CANNOT have insurance at ANY price if you get too sick.
    Insurance greed says you will be CUT OFF from insurance even if you pay if we find a loophole in our contract.

    March 31, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    The REAL Truth...

    The intent of the conservative plan that is the premise behind ACA was that exchanges set up in every state would stimulate competitive pricing by insurers leading to lower prices. In state that have implemented the exchanges, that has generally been the case. For the red states that refused, not so much. Generally the opposite.. but the GOP's intent behind refusing to set up the exchanges was to make this legislation fail.


    Here in Florida our illustrious governor and his merry band of sychophants in the legislature also enacted legislation that allows insurance companies to increase premiums by as much as they want, whenever they want – and they ADMIT they did so for NO OTHER REASON than to make Floridians HATE "Obamacare".

    March 31, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. MikeS

    I am a 27 year old male and signed up for health insurance two weeks ago through California's exchange. This will be the first time in a few years that I've had health insurance, previously I was covered under my parents but am now too old. It is a little expensive for me, $243/month for "Gold" coverage with $0 deductible including vision and dental (an extra $10/month for both added). Unfortunately I earn about $50k/year so do not qualify for any subsidies or payment help. With the high cost of living in SoCal I will have to tighten the budget a little to make it work, but am still glad overall that I decided to get insurance instead of just winging it hoping that I didn't get sick or injured as I had been doing before. I have a few chronic health issues I would like to get checked out now that I am covered. IMO they should factor in the cost of living in different areas when deciding if you qualify for assistance. I don't understand all the negativity the ACA gets on these news posts. Why is having national health insurance standards to protect our citizens and more of us covered a bad thing?

    March 31, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Tony

    All the arguing back and forth does not change the facts on the ground. ACA enrollment is surging and may actually hit the 7 million target originally projected by the CBO.

    From the LA Times yesterday (3/30/2014):

    "Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate:

    • At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.

    • A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March.

    • At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand's unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law's implementation.

    • An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents' health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured.

    • Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates."

    March 31, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. The REAL Truth...

    @rla – I am sick of an administration that lies without a thought!
    TIme to grow up and do some independent research, and turn off FNC for a while..
    NEWSFLASH.. they ALL do it. This has nothing to do with progressives..
    I can cherry pick "lies" from every POTUS/administration in the last 60 yrs – Reagan, Nixon, Bush Sr, Clinton, Dubya, etc. The difference here is that the right has an agenda – believing that folks are d u m b enough to believe they are somehow different. Electronic media is now 24x7x365 instant as is social media. Didn't exist in Reagan's time.

    Reagan doubled the debt, so did Dubya. Reagan raided SS funds to help balance his outrageous spending (so did Dubya) and ran up MASSIVE deficits (so did Dubya). Remember Deficit's_don't_matter Cheney ?? See the parallels??

    ACA will work given time and some corrections.

    March 31, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. rs

    What really has the Right panicked is the ACA is working.
    * more than 6 million enrolled, with more coming
    * proof the GOP (and their Koch-moneyed) advertisements were lies- people are getting good, affordable deals.
    * More Americans insured after decades of shrinking insurance coverage in the US

    Face it- this isn't the disaster they threatened, and these people will vote. The GOP is left defending "freedom" as being able to die from medical issues and going broke at the same time, and having no record of reform at all on health care for more than 6 years. I don't envey them that.

    March 31, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Jay

    Over 6 million have signed up and climbing. The GOP are in full panic mode since they have nothing to offer the American people but more fear and hate. The Affordable care act is working and is here to stay. The big GOP lie is not working anymore. GOP do not want the American people to have affordable Health care. GOP could care less.

    March 31, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Econ301

    What I don't understand is why Republcians are against there own ideas.

    Exchanges are a Republican Idea, with the goal of providing individual consumers more information, and leading to more competitive pricing. Generally these ideas align with the Republican belief on economics and competition.

    The Individual Mandate is a Republican Idea, with the goal of prohibiting free riding. The idea being that if given a choice between paying for your own healthcare or having someone else pay for you will choose to have someone else pay for you. In other words this mandate is designed to remove the choice so that people can't choose to be irresponsible (This is the same argument Republican make as to why you shouldn't have welfare (because it allows people to choose to be responsible)

    I can see why Republicans would be against subsidies, but the Exchanges and Individual Mandate are right up there ally, so I don't see why they are fighting those elements.

    March 31, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. jguy1957

    Obamacare is a total mess. It has raised health rates, dropped people from coverage, and nothing from the government has matched the actual law. What numbers have been true from the government from the start, not Obama's lie about saving $2500, so why does CNN believe the numbers that they hear of how many enrolled. I am not sure if I have heard how many have paid from the Government. One thing I do keep hearing from Obama is the dates change and who gets wavers. It seems that CNN never pounds the admin about that or questions the numbers from an admin that lies.

    March 31, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Rudy NYC


    The sad truth is this law does not really fix anything. It penalizes people for making economic choice. This is a bad role for Government to be in. Imagine if a Republican pushed through a law that said in order to 'help law enforcement' everyone had to own a firearm and be able to use it. Technically under the way the ACA got passed it could be done. And if you do not own a gun you could be taxed 1% – 2.5% of your income for it ' to help pay for additional law enforcement you are not supporting by purchasing a fire arm'
    False equivalence, dude. You're making a strawman argument from the right bleachers. Everyone needs health care services at some point in their lives. And, everyone born in the U.S. has used health care services in their lives.

    Whatever happened to people taking responsibility for their own needs. America listened to Republicans debating how people already have health care if they should need it. Folks can just go to the emergency room and get free health care by freeloading off of the rest of us. The hypocrisy of the conservative arguments against making people bear responsibility for paying for their own health care is truly astonishing. It sounds to me like conservatives would rather that there be millions of freeloaders and shoplifters when it comes to health care to me.

    BTW, I find it very plausible that Republicans would pass a law requiring that everyone join a police force, or the military.

    March 31, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. SnehDavis

    Democrats need to take it from President Clinton. He is living proof that Republican scare tactics don’t work. What happened when Al Gore was frightened to distance his presidential campaign from President Clinton, the man he was a VP to?! Gore, knees clattering, fell for it, and we all know “the rest of the story”. Gore lost! ACA is on a normal course, for a government program of that magnitude, improving by the day, enrollment surging in the monthly reports! Democrats who distance themselves from President Obama, on account of Republican misinformation on ACA, are cowards, and are doing so at their own peril!

    March 31, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    Please do NOT talk of Debt, it is created by Reagan, Bush-2 two wars drained this treasury–created huge pile of Debt. Yes, now Economy is improving–restrict all visas for some time, at least.

    March 31, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. salty dog

    Lizzie, did you check, or just let fox news tell you? That is the single most untruthful channel on TV, yet you tools eat it up, why do they have zero credible journalists there? No reporter or journalist considers it a news station, I bet you think they are fair and balanced, without a single Democratic contribution, nice!

    March 31, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    What I don't understand is why Republcians are against there own ideas.
    It has nothing to do with politics, philosophy, economics, or belief. They don't like whatever Obama is for.
    Why do you think Obama joked about endorsing the opposite of what he wants so that the GOP becomes "for" it.

    March 31, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. quinLee

    some smart person pointed out yesterday that the right has become a camp of whiners always betting on the worse happening. Instead of just complaining and whining, how about pitching in. If a Dem idea stinks, offer a BETTER alternative.

    March 31, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. crabman1

    if i let uncle scam hit my tax return at the end of the year it might be cheaper than buying insurance

    March 31, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. jguy1957

    @Gurgyl You have left off all Democrats on that list. Note that Obama is the greatest President for increasing debt. Look at the facts and not just what you want.

    March 31, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. salty dog

    What I find odd is the gop bloggers who act like were stupid because we don't believe the Koch brothers ads, even after they were proven to be lies. And why is it do hard to see the gop is, and will do everything possible to ruin healthcare? If they were really concerned, they would want to help fix it, the know that's what we want, and they will present an alternative, but they won't vote on it, their problem is that if they do that, they will be expected to do something after the election, and they have no intention of doing that. The things that gop voters are willing to overlook, wow! Clearly he most hateful, lying politicians we've ever had, they shred our rights because they don't agree with them. Rand Paul changing rules to suit his political aspirations, never gave it a second thought, its all about him. Like, the Republican governors who change laws, knowing its unconstitutional, saying, let the Democrats overturn it in court, get rid of them.

    March 31, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Jamal

    Another day, another hill of bull from CNN and the Lib drivelers. Wait till O' Care catches up with reality and your wallet. Then, and only the will you wake up.

    March 31, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. TickedOff

    Only one problem: Most of the employees are off today. Know why? It's a holiday– Ceaser Chavez Day!
    When you try to get assistance via chat, it tells you that. Freakin' great planning: put the deadline on a federal holiday.

    March 31, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  21. sly

    6 million signed up and all the GOP can say is "I think everyone is lying".

    This from the party who's biggest issue in 6 years is to see President Obama's Birth Certificate.

    And yes, we know, Mitt Romney really won the last election.

    What fools in that party of 18%.

    March 31, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. bobo

    Obamacare was rammed though with LIES.... if it were not for those lies..... we would not have to deal with this Obamacare Disaster now! Please vote out All Dems in November!!!

    March 31, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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