A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from Chris Bowers, wanting to know if I’d be willing to participate in a fundraiser centered around the ACA Signups project.
I assumed, naturally enough, that he meant that dKos was hoping to use The Graph in order to help drum up support for Daily Kos, since I had done so with a similar fundraiser a year and a half ago involving the original GOP Rape Advisory Chart.
However, I was surprised when he explained that actually, the idea was to hold a fundraiser for me, as both a thank you for the work I’ve put into the ACA project over the past 6 (almost 7 now) months, as well as to encourage me to keep it going.
I figured, sure, why not? It is a hell of a lot of work, I have been putting more and more time into it as we approached the deadline, and I certainly don’t have a problem accepting donations on the site itself (I was squeamish about this at first but quickly got over that). A few bucks from the dKos community would certainly be appreciated.
But I never expected what happened next.
THANK YOUSome 4,300+ contributors later, the total stood at over $57,000. All for someone who isn’t running for office, isn’t leading a ballot initiative and isn’t even fighting a wrongful conviction or some other injustice.
Just a guy who started with a hobby that turned into a passion, helped by over two dozen people who provided a lot of the actual data sources—mostly including fellow Kossacks.
Sometime in December the mainstream media caught on, and from there the whole thing went viral, culminating in perhaps the greatest honor I could hope for: Nobel laureate, Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writing glowing praise of ACASignups.net. (I actually stopped tracking the media coverage at this point...didn’t seem anywhere it could go but downhill after that).
In any event, I just wanted to say “Thank You”.--Thank you to Markos, Chris, Greg, Linda, Susan, Jed, Joan, David and the rest of the dKos team for arranging the fundraiser as well as their continuing support/promotion of the ACA Signups project.
--Thank you to Kossacks including ybruti, CJB, rugbymom, timmyc, rsmpdx, dadadata, Rolyboy6 and especially ArcticStones for helping crowdsource the data. Many others from dKos and beyond have been added to the data provider ranks as the site has grown in popularity, but you guys were there from the start.
--Thank you to Mokurai, who has been writing excellent daily "ACA Signup Roundup" diaries on my behalf here at dKos...usually doing a better job of explaining the developments than I do over at the other site!
--Thank you to Eclectablog, who gave me an additional platform to get the word out about the project.
--Thank you to the thousands of people who donated either via the dKos fundraiser or directly through the website.
--Thank you to those in the news media who took this site and our work seriously.
--Thank you to the half-million unique visitors the site has received since October.
--Thank you to President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party, who took the GOP’s half-assed, ugly, Frankenstein-of-a-Behemoth bill and somehow beat it into shape and somehow are making the damned thing work.
(Quite frankly, I think they’re more pissed off that Obama managed to make their bill work than they would be if he’d managed to push through single payer or the public option, because of the embarrassment factor).
--And finally, thank you to my wife and son, who have put up with a husband/father who’s been essentially “MIA” for the past 6 months.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
There may be a few thousand more enrollments to come from Nevada, Colorado and so forth, but today, April 30, is about as definitive a date as we're gonna get for the wrap-up of the first Open Enrollment period under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, otherwise known as the ACA or Obamacare.
With that in mind, the time has come for me to officially declare my intentions for the ACA Signups website going forward.
Well, first of all, here's my projections for the "final" numbers as of midnight tonight, April 30, 2014:
Exchange-Based QHPs:Now, to the main point:
--7.10M as of 3/31
--8.03M as of 4/15
--8.14M as of 4/30
(I expect a minimum of 7.57 million of these to be paid by late May, BTW)2.09M
--2.09M documented; another 2.91M estimated by CBO
--Possibly a couple million more (?)
ACA-Enabled New Medicaid/CHIP Determinations (does NOT include all of March/April):
--3.80M "strict expansion"
--1.42M "bulk transfers" from other programs
--2.04M "woodworker" enrollees
= 7.26M total (note: "determined eligible" doesn't necessarily mean they actually enrolled)
Young Adults 19-25 on Parents' Plan ("sub26ers"):
--between 1.6M - 3.1M depending on which study you use
SHOP Exchange / Off-Exchange ESIs:
--theoretically up to 8.2M more according to RAND Corp. study, but not included on Graph
Originally, I had planned on only running this project (and thus, this website) until the official March 31st open enrollment deadline.
I assumed that a few days after that, the official numbers would be in, the spreadsheet & graph updated one final time, and I'd pull the plug on it. Mission accomplished, served its purpose, job well done, etc.
However, a few things changed between then and now.
For one thing, the HHS & CMS reports for March still aren't out.
For another, the #ACAovertime enrollment extension period was announced, with Oregon and Nevada taking it out to April 30 and May 30 respectively. Plus, of course, Medicaid, SHOP, Major Life Events (and, for that matter, Native Americans) all have no deadline under the law anyway; those are year-round.
SO...I recently committed to keeping things updated at least through mid-May, when the March CMS report is out and the April HHS report (which should wrap up just about all of the extension QHP enrollments) is released.
The second thing that happened was the media attention this has generated. Don't get me wrong, I'm deeply flattered, but it just seems odd that no one else happened to do this. In any event, my raised media profile makes flipping the switch off now problematic (although obviously the attention has already started to fade now that we're over the 8M / 4/15 line). I went from having a couple hundred hard-core ACA data nerds visiting the site (not an insult...I'm a data nerd myself) to several thousand people...and from there, to as many as 30,000 unique visitors per day.
Needless to say, more and more people started asking me if I plan to keep it running through the summer, through the fall, through the election? Granted, things are going to quiet down quite a bit on the actual enrollment side of things, but there will be all sorts of other related topics which come up along the way. And then, of course, there's the second open enrollment period, which starts on November 15 (right after the mid-term elections, natch). Who knows, maybe Massachusetts and Hawaii will actually have their websites working by then...
This left me with two main excuses for not keeping things going past May. The first was financial; aside from the donations (for which I am eternally grateful, by the way) and a few bucks from the banner ads (they don't really generate much, and I refuse to make them any more invasive than they already are), no one was actually paying me to do this, and I do have a family, mortgage, etc. to help support.
Well, then came the dKos fundraiser. The bottom line is that this turn of events certainly helped negate excuse number one.
The other issue is time. I do have a day job (website developer, remember?), and I have clients whose work I have already fallen way behind on. The donations help me tremendously, and certainly will make it easier to turn down some future work for the balance of the year, but it doesn't do anything to deal with the issue of the projects which I'm already committed to. I've let some of my existing clients down, and have to devote ample time to catching up with those projects over the next month or so, regardless of what's going on with this site or the law itself.
However, things should (I hope) calm down enough that I'll at least be able to get a handle on this problem.
So, I'm announcing here and now that, barring any major life change of my own which prevents me from doing so (personal/career/medical crisis, etc.):
I'm officially committing to keeping things going through the 2nd enrollment period, which runs from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.However...who knows? Perhaps the HHS Dept. will change their policies and methodology on releasing enrollment data the second time around, and this site will no longer be necessary? After all, if they had done what I wanted them to do in the first place (release at least the top-line enrollment data on a weekly basis), I never would have felt the need to start this project. Maybe they'll do so for Year Two?
As for the banner ads, donations and "member accounts", that may morph into something else soon. Perhaps I'll add some extra "members only" content or user forums or something (although the comments section seems to be doing that job pretty well). Not really sure how to handle this; suggestions are welcome.
Or, perhaps interest will die off to the point that there's really no point in keeping things going any further, and I'll drag the site limping into 2015 as a whisper of it's former self. We'll see how it goes.
Again, thanks to everyone for everything. It's been a hell of a ride so far. Where do we go from here? For myself, hopefully...eventually...single payer.
Until then, the ACA will have to serve as a gateway.
THERE'S JUST ONE MORE THING...That was Steve Jobs' line at the end of his famous keynote addresses, and it seems appropriate here as well.
As you may know, while we need all hands on deck this November at the state level, there’s no state in more dire need of wrestling control of all elected areas of governance back from the Republican Party than my own home state of Michigan.
However, the GOP also has a Supermajority in the state Senate, as well as control of the state House of Representatives.
The laundry list of the GOP’s crimes against decency in Michigan are a mile long, but I’ll stick with three of the most disturbing: Right to Work (which has pulverized the right to unionize in the home of the moment), the EAA (which is destroying public education en masse) and of course the infamous “Rape Insurance” law, which actually penalizes women for the “crime” of becoming pregnant due to having been raped.
Which, of course, takes us right back to the GOP Rape Advisory Chart all over again (which has grown to 7 volumes now, by the way).
Anyway, I’ll have more to say about what I’m going to be doing to combat the Michigan GOP this November in a future diary. For now, I’m just going to ask you to remember how dedicated I’ve been to the ACA Signups project the past 6 months...and think about how much dedication I’m capable of bringing to the 2014 general election.
—Charles / Brainwrap