Conservatives Demand Info on Obamacare Rollout Failure

Criticize lack of transparency from ‘most transparent administration in history’

Grover Norquist / AP
October 8, 2013

Conservative critics of Obamacare want to know how many people have actually purchased insurance through the president’s signature legislation following the glitch-ridden rollout of the Obamacare website last week.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) launched a website Monday——attacking the administration’s refusal to release information about the number of enrollees.

"Americans already know that they have a hard time putting information into the Obamacare enrollment system," ATR’s Grover Norquist said in a press release. "Turns out they can't get any information out of the system either. The system is broken on both ends. Even a company going bankrupt knows how many widgets it sold. Maybe it's a small amount. But it's a known number."

The launch of the Obamacare website was accompanied by widespread technical problems and long wait times for users, leading many reporters to wonder how many had actually managed to enroll in one of the new federal healthcare exchanges through the website.

"I would refer you to [Health and Human Services] for details," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in response to a request for the numbers on October 1. "Again, this is day one."

By day seven, Carney still did not have a number for the White House press corps, but said the information would be released on a monthly basis.

"What I can confirm right now is that people are signing up through federal exchanges," Carney said. "But we're not going to be able to—this is an aggregation process—we're not gonna release data on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. … We'll release enrollment data on regular, monthly intervals."

Norquist said he was doing "peachy keen" after watching Jon Stewart’s interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on The Daily Show, Monday night.

"I think it’s fascinating he asked all the questions that a normal person would ask that the New York Times wouldn't," Norquist said.

Stewart pressed Sebelius on the flawed rollout of the Obamacare website, as well as exemptions for the new regulations for businesses but not individuals. Sebelius also would not provide a concrete number on enrollees.

"I can't tell you. Because I don't know," Sebelius said when asked how many people had signed up. "We are taking applications on the web, on the phone. We'll be giving monthly reports but I can tell you, we've had not only lots of web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created."

According to the New York Times, White House officials declined to identify the private contractors responsible for the website, saying the information was private.

"Lack of transparency is going to be an increasing problem with Obamacare around," Norquist said.

"It shouldn't be a secret," he continued. "It’s not like we're not worried about the Soviets or the Syrians getting the information.