WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - May 19, 2014) - Judicial Watch today released a 106-page document obtained on May 1 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), revealing that on its first full day of operation, October 1, 2013, Obamacare's Healthcare.gov received only one enrollment. The document, obtained in response to a November 25, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against HHS, also reveals that on the second day of Healthcare.gov operation, 48% of registrations failed (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:13-cv-01855)).
The FOIA lawsuit was filed after HHS failed to respond to an October 7, 2013, Judicial Watch FOIA request seeking the following information:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the number of individuals that purchased health insurance through Healthcare.gov between October 1, 2013, and October 4, 2013.
The Affordable Health Care Act website, which officially launched on the Tuesday, October 1, immediately encountered substantial problems typical of those reported by the Chicago Tribune: "Consumers seeking more information on their new options under the Affordable Care Act were met with long delays, error messages and a largely non-working federal insurance exchange and call center Tuesday morning." Pressed for an explanation in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Marilyn Tavenner, head of the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, refused to disclose the number of people who had purchased insurance through the site saying, "We have just decided not to release that yet."
The full extent of the failure, however, is reflected in the details provided by the Judicial Watch FOIA document revelations. They include:
- On October 1, there were 43,208 accounts created and 1 enrollment.
- As of October 31, 2013, there were 1,319,425 accounts created nationwide -- but only 30,512 actual enrollments in Obamacare.
- On October 1, 2013, at the end of the first day (4:30), the Senior Advisor at Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Brigid M. Russell, sent out an email to her staff with a subject line celebrating "2 enrollments!" The body copy of the email read: "We have our second official FFM enrollment! The first two Form 834s sent out are to: 1) CareSource in Ohio, 2) BCBS of North Carolina
- Official figures contained in the HHS report provide conflicting figures as to the number of enrollments. FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] statistics show 23,259 cumulative to-date applications submitted as of 10/2/13 and 286 completed plan selections. Earlier numbers show 356 enrollments created as of 7pm on 10/2/13 that were completed with Form 834s sent.
- An October 2, 2013, email from HHS Special Assistant Marianne Bowen indicated serious problems with congressional enrollments: "The Congressional issue (68 attempts for Direct enrollment) was an issue stemming from incomplete applications being sent through (started, not finished, sent anyway) and the way the issuers are assigning unique numbers. Turns out there were only 4 complete Direct Enrollment applications that went through, the other 64 were not complete." [The U.S. Congress has approximately 24,000 professional staffers.]
- On October 2, 2013, the Obamacare website had 70,000 page views but only 5,000 were unique visitors, and 48% of registrations failed. The large number of page views may have been the result of visitors repeatedly hitting the "refresh" button due to long waiting times.
On April 17, 2014, President Obama announced that eight million people had signed up for health insurance on Affordable Healthcare Act exchanges. That figure, however, may be substantially over-inflated. According to testimony in May by the America's Health Insurance Plans association before the House Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, "Because of the challenges that surfaced with the launch of the Exchanges in October 2013, some consumers were advised to create a new account and enroll again. As a result, insurers have many duplicate enrollments in their system for which they never received any payment."
"Once again, Judicial Watch is able to get information through FOIA that no one else had gotten -- the specifics about the unmitigated failure of the Obamacare healthcare.gov collapse," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The Obama administration tried to cover this up, Congress failed to follow through, but we managed to get the truth about the $667 billion Obamacare website. Imagine what would have happened to Obamacare if the American people knew only one person was able to enroll on its first day? What other Obamacare failures is President Obama hiding?"
In addition to its FOIA lawsuit to obtain enrollment figures for the Healthcare.gov rollout, Judicial Watch, on March 27, 2014, also filed a FOIA lawsuit against the HHS for records regarding the testing and oversight of the Obama administration's error-filled "834" reporting forms. Form 834 is an electronic file sent from HealthCare.gov to an insurance company after a consumer picks a health care coverage plan. An inaccurate 834 form may result in consumers either not having coverage, or being turned down for payment claims. It has been estimated that as many as 33 percent of the 834 forms for enrollees in the federal health care website may have been inaccurate, incomplete, or missing altogether.