The broadcast networks have aired more than a few critical stories about the ObamaCare rollout -- from "glitches" with the HealthCare.gov website to the millions of individuals who are losing their health insurance in spite of the President's oft-repeated promise to the contrary (a lie that NBC's Chuck Todd naively argued was not "intentional.")
But an exchange on Monday night's The Kudlow Report on CNBC included evidence the troubles are much deeper than the pro-Obama media have generally acknowledged.
Manhattan Institute senior fellow Avik Roy -- echoing Democratic Senator Max Baucus -- argued for shutting down the website until it is actually fixed, because individuals trying to use it are getting false information about both prices and subsidies, and their personal information is at this point vulnerable to hackers.
Insurance industry expert Bob Laszewski argued that the website won't really be "stable" until "late January or February at the earliest," and that in the meantime "there are lots of people getting hung out to dry with these cancellation letters."
Laszewski cited a dour conference call with reporters conducted by the Center for Medicare and Mediaid Services (the agency in charge of implementing the HealthCare.gov website) on Friday, in which administration officials "admitted flat out that the deeper they get into the system, the more problems they find. They are finding things they didn't know were broken a week ago."
Yet, a review of the ABC, CBS and NBC Friday night newscasts found no mention of this pessimistic update from CMS. Similarly, Baucus' call for the website to be taken offline was also not reported -- ABC and NBC ignored the Democratic Senator entirely, while CBS This Morning on Thursday ran a short clip of Baucus telling HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that "I want to do what I can to help you make it [the website] work, but that's a two-way street. You've got to tell us what's going on -- candidly, fully, totally."
This morning on Good Morning America, ABC's Jonathan Karl repeated White House assurances that the website will be "largely functional" in a mere 18 days:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, still a lot of problems with that website. Only a couple weeks away from the end of November deadline the administration promised the website would be fully ready then. Will they make it?
JON KARL: Well, that's a great question. They still tell me they believe they will make it. Although they say it won't be perfect. It's not going to be entirely fixed. But they will say it will be largely functional by the end of the month.
For a glimpse of the deeper troubles facing ObamaCare, here's an excerpt from the November 11 edition of The Kudlow Report (transcript below):
AVIK ROY (Manhattan Institute): I'm with Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, who originally called it a train wreck, right? He said at a hearing last week, 'Shut down the website until you get it fixed,' because right now people aren't getting accurate prices on those websites. They are not getting accurate information about the subsidies they are eligible for on those websites, and they're not -- their private information is not protected because the privacy standards aren't there. So you're putting yourself vulnerable, making yourself vulnerable to hackers.
So, shut down the website, get it fixed, because what they are finding now, Jeff Zeints [the White House official in charge of fixing the website] is finding now, is for every problem they solve, three more problems crop up. They've got to shut the thing down and then delay all these mandates until they get it fixed up.
Host LARRY KUDLOW: Bob Laszewski, let me just look at this. Me, I think the chances of them shutting this thing down and 'delay, delay, delay' is slim to none, because I think they're being very stubborn. But I may be dead wrong, I may be dead wrong. Some actuaries have put out a study that suggests delays will be very costly, will be very costly. They may not be able, you know -- the insurance companies may be out of whack, they may not have enough premiums coming into cover their own costs under a delay scenario. How big a problem might that be.
ROBERT LASZEWSKI (President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates): I think we've crossed the trip wire. The administration is not going to have this website operating smoothly by December 1. CMS [the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] held a conference call on Friday and they admitted flat out that the deeper they get into the system, the more problems they find. They are finding things they didn't know were broken a week ago. They've admitted they don't know what they don't know. This site is maybe halfway through a four- or five-month testing period. I don't think it's going to be stable until late January or February at the earliest.
So, we've just got a train wreck. The dominos have started to fall here. It's unavoidable that there are going to be more and more of these problems and there are lots of people getting hung out to dry with these cancellation letters.