Why No One Trusts The Obama Administration, Part MVIII

Well, on Monday the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) trumpeted the news that 5 million people had enrolled in the ObamaCare exchanges.  Unfortunately, releasing data early is something that HHS can’t do lest the data be unreliable.  For example, here is HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius being asked back in September and October if she had enrollment numbers:

St. Patty’s Day wasn’t the first time enrollment data was released early, as I noted a while back in The Federalist:

Fast forward now to December 24, the deadline to sign up on the exchange for coverage that would begin January 1.  If Sebelius’ testimony in late October was any indication, the Administration wouldn’t be able to release “reliable” data on how many people had enrolled through the December deadline until the middle of January.  But on December 29, the Administration announced that more “than 1.1 million people enrolled in a qualified health plan via the Federally-facilitated Marketplace from October 1 to December 24, with more than 975,000 of those enrolling this month alone.”  Two days after that, the Administration released more data showing that over 2.1 million people had signed up through state and federal exchanges.

If data could be released five to seven days after the December deadline, why couldn’t HHS release data in a similarly timely fashion for October and November?

WARREN, MI - AUGUST 19:  Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius attends press conference before a "Women For Obama" town hall meeting at the Macomb County Community College August 19, 2008 in Warren, Michigan. Sebelius has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate for the presumptive Democratic  presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

WARREN, MI – AUGUST 19: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius attends press conference before a “Women For Obama” town hall meeting at the Macomb County Community College August 19, 2008 in Warren, Michigan. Sebelius has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

….The most reasonable explanation is that the enrollment number for the October period was only about 106,000 and for November about 365,000.  Those figures were a public relations disaster for ObamaCare, and so the Administration wanted to delay their release as long as possible.  But in December, enrollment had jumped to a much more positive, headline-generating 2.1 million, and so the Administration wanted those figures reported as quickly as possible.

It would seem that if you want to build trust with people, you need to be consistent.  If you say data can’t be released early due to reliability issues, then you don’t release the data early—ever!  Once you start releasing it early—not once, not twice, but multiple times—then your reliability excuse becomes just that, an excuse.



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