Today’s hearing into the Obamacare website almost immediately descended into farce. Emma Roller provides the basics:
With a look of what can only be described as pure glee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) pointed out a warning on healthcare.gov saying the information users enter is less private than typical medical forms.
He went on to press Campbell [an executive at CGI], trying to get her to say the website violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “You know it’s not HIPAA compliant,” he told her. “Admit it! You’re under oath!” Campbell demurred, and [Rep. Frank] Pallone swooped in to save the day:
Pallone: I started out in my opening statements saying there was no legitimacy to this hearing, and the last line of questioning certainly confirms that. HIPAA only applies when there’s health information being provided. That’s not in play here today—no health information is required in the application process, and why is that? Because pre-existing conditions don’t matter! So once again, here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody—
That’s all funny enough. But the cherry on top comes from Sarah Kliff, who provides a snapshot of the HTML code that Barton is upset about:
The warning that Barton is objecting to isn’t even active code. The HTML tag in the pink oval means that everything which follows has been “commented out.” The seven lines of code above don’t show up anywhere on the actual website and are never executed in any way. It’s just boilerplate that was taken from somewhere else, and then edited.
This is what I was talking about earlier this morning when I suggested that Republicans are unlikely to hold serious hearings. This kind of thing is just embarrassingly ignorant. A few more like this, demonstrating that Republicans are flailing around looking for partisan cudgels rather than genuinely trying to investigate a procurement process gone wrong, and the press will simply lose interest. And they’ll be right to.