In Early October, USA Today's Tim Mullaney Called 'A Winner Despite Glitches'

In an October 3 column at USA Today, economics correspondent Tim Mullaney pronounced " a winner despite glitches."

Mullaney from all appearances has never retracted any of what he wrote that fateful day. He also defended himself vigorously in correspondence with yours truly during the week or so after my NewsBusters post critical of his writeup appeared. Accordingly, in light of what has really happened with, it seems more than appropriate to republish several paragraphs from his October review for their value as pure comedy gold.

This is almost too easy — but it's so much fun (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Review: a winner despite glitches Look past its start-up glitches -- they'll get fixed -- is an out-of-the-box success for consumers shopping for health insurance.


Any e-commerce veteran can tell you: If a start-up's business proposition is sound and it delivers what it promises, it survives early days when websites crash and chaos reigns. ...

This brings us to Tuesday's launch of, the government-run insurance marketplace and centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. The headlines are dominated by technical glitches likely to be gone by Thanksgiving. [1] Two main questions will matter once they're fixed.

The most important is whether meets its fundamental task — creating a marketplace with an array of choices and competitive prices. [2] The other is whether it explains insurance so people understand it — how to buy it, why they should, how the law's subsidies work, and helps them start grasping which policy works for them.

On those counts, is an out-of-the-box success. [3]

... Let's say up front that's problems have kept me from doing all the comparison shopping I'd planned [4] ...

... Site-performance issues matter, but they don't ruffle e-commerce veterans much. [5] I talked to a half-dozen, including two Bush administration officials who launched the marketplace for Medicare prescription-drug plans.

They said the problems may take a few weeks to two months to fix — and won't matter in the long run.

... For, the fundamentals are well-priced insurance, clearly explained. And they're in place.

I don't want to take too much away from what commenters will say, but I have to note the following:

[1] — The "glitches" were NOT "gone by Thanksgiving," and the number one problem of no credible site security hasn't been sufficiently addressed. IT security experts say that anyone concerned with their personal privacy and the security of their personal information should not be using the site.

[2] — Choices are far more limited than private plan choices were. Geographic barriers abound, and networks are much tighter.

[3] — This was an embarrassing evaluation on October 3 when Mullaney issued it. Now it should be considered completely humiliating and utterly indefensible.

[4] — Mullaney couldn't even use the site when he did his review. He had to retreat to a canned calculator provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[5] — I'd love to see Mullaney name names here. Performance in essence doesn't matter? Are you flippin' kidding me? Also, keep in mind that we have since learned that critical components of the site, including back-end payment and subsidy systems, haven't even been built. Does that not matter either?

That's all I have on Mullaney's malarkey. I didn't want to steal all the commenters' fun.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.