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HHS’s Foolish Decision to Game Signup Numbers

The administration must have known this act of deception would come out eventually

If this turns out to be true, it ranks as one of the most idiotic decisions made for the sake of political spin. Bloomberg is reporting that HHS secretly included stand alone dental plans in their exchange signup numbers to make them look bigger. From Bloomberg:

The Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups.

Without the dental plans, the federal government would have had 6.97 million people with medical insurance under the law known as Obamacare, investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee calculated, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

While it probably sounded slightly better to say the Obamacare enrollment slightly exceeded the 7 million goal instead of effectively just meeting the goal, the PR difference is negligible. Effectively meeting your goals is still a good story and a perfectly fine headline.

The administration must have known this act of deception would come out eventually and now conservatives will have a field day with it. It gives credence to every claim that the administration has been gaming all the numbers and implies the administration can’t be trusted when it talks about the program.

They decided to traded the tiniest brief improvement in PR last year for a massive headache in the future.

Photo by kygp under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at