UPDATED: IMPORTANT: I cannot guarantee accurate federal data after 1/20/17.
2018 MIDTERM ELECTION
Time: D H M S
But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head.
For example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.
--George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Let's hop in the Wayback Machine, shall we, Sherman?
Here's what I posted on my FAQ page over three years ago:
my data comes from a variety of sources, including the HHS, the State-Run Exchange press releases and news outlets ranging from small local newspapers to major national news outlets. I do not guarantee that any of their data is accurate, but I do guarantee that any of their data that I enter into the spreadsheet is as accurate as I can make it given my limited time and resources. Occasionally I may make an honest mistake; when this happens, I attempt to correct it as quickly as possible and will also post an explanation of what happened in the blog as appropriate.
...Is it possible that some of the numbers provided by the HHS, local news outlets or national news outlets is erroneous? Of course. If so, is this deliberate on their part? Anything's possible, but I doubt it. We're all human; reporters make mistakes; editors make mistakes; government employees make mistakes and I make mistakes. All I can say is that I'm doing the best I can to keep the data on this site as accurate as I can, and I promise to make corrections (with notifications of those corrections as appropriate) as quickly as I can if they happen.
Don't get me wrong: The HHS Dept. and CMS (or is it "the CMS division"? I've never been sure how to refer to it) have indeed made mistakes with their own data in the past; the most egregious case was probably the infamous "DentalGate" incident, in which CMS overstated how many effectuated exchange enrollees there were by around 400,000 people (these turned out to be double-counted standalone dental plan enrollees instead). There've been other oddball data glitches, most of which were simple clerical errors or typos which were corrected within a few hours or days of being originally posted. Stuff happens and we're all only human, after all.
In addition, unless I'm mistaken, most of the actual staff...the career employees at CMS/HHS, many of who've been there through more than one administration, will likely remain, and will do their jobs to the best of their ability, including trying to compile and publish data as accurately as possible.
HOWEVER, their bosses...the HHS Secretary and, I presume, the head of CMS...will be appointed by Donald J. Trump and confirmed by a 100% Republican-controlled Senate.
Given Trump's long, disturbing history of flat-out misstatements (aka "making sh*t up out of whole cloth"), and the type of sycophants he's likely to put into place, I can't guarantee with any certainty that the numbers spouted off by them are going to bear any connection with reality. Maybe they'll be accurate. Maybe they'll be off slightly. Maybe they'll be completely removed from any actual numbers. Who the hell knows?
Earlier today it was reported that Ben Carson was being considered for HHS Secretary. Then the rumor mill turned to Bobby Jindal. At the moment, I'm hearing it could be Rep. Tom Price, who (like pretty much every other GOP member of Congress) despises the ACA. That doesn't guarantee that he'll Make Sh*t Up, of course, but under a Trump regime, anything's possible. Anything.
UPDATE: It's Price after all.
Anyway, I'll do my best to analyze/report the numbers as accurately as possible, praying the entire time that I'm not simply an unpaid version of Winston Smith, substituting one piece of nonsense for another.
UPDATE 12/20/16: For those who think I'm being paranoid....
Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump
Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.
The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information.
...In response to a future policy that had minimal federal or state regulations, CBO and JCT expect that some new insurance products would be offered that limited coverage to the amount of the tax credit. Some of those insurance products purchased by people using a tax credit would probably not offer much financial protection against high out-of-pocket costs. Depending on the size of the tax credit, however, the depth and extent of coverage and the premiums of plans could vary. As discussed in another blog post about how CBO defines and estimates coverage, CBO does not count plans that have very limited benefits in measuring the extent of private insurance coverage; in such an assessment, it counts only people with a comprehensive major medical policy as having private insurance.
Under such proposals, CBO and JCT would separately estimate the number of people who would receive the tax credits and, if policymakers expressed interest in such estimates, the number of people who would purchase private insurance in the nongroup market that met a broad definition of coverage. In that case, the latter estimate of the number of people with coverage would probably be smaller than the estimate of the number of people who would receive the tax credit.
UPDATE 1/22/17: This was tweeted out this morning by Anna Rascouet-Paz; I don't know who the original source is beyond "someone who worked for a past administration", but it makes total sense to me:
If you are puzzled by the bizarre "press conference" put on by the White House press secretary this evening (angrily claiming that Trump's inauguration had the largest audience in history, accusing them of faking photos and lying about attendance), let me help explain it. This spectacle served three purposes:
1. Establishing a norm with the press: They will be told things that are obviously wrong and they will have no opportunity to ask questions. That way, they will be grateful if they get anything more at any press conference. This is the PR equivalent of "negging", the odious pick-up practice of a particular kind of horrible person (e.g., Donald Trump).
2. Increasing the separation between Trump's base (1/3 of the population) from everybody else (the remaining 2/3). By being told something that is obvoiusly wrong--that there is no evidence for and all evidence against, that anybody with eyes can see is wrong--they are forced to pick whether they are going to believe Trump or their lying eyes. The gamble here--likely to pay off--is that they will believe Trump. This means that they will regard media outlets that report the truth as "fake news" (because otherwise they'd be forced to confront their cognitive dissonance.)
3. Creating a sense of uncertainty about whether facts are knowable, among a certain chunk of the population (which is taking a page from the Kremlin, for whom this is their preferred disinformation tactic). A third of the population will say "clearly the White House is lying", a third will say "if Trump says it, it must be true", and the remaining third will say "gosh, I guess this is unknowable." The idea isn't to convince these people of untrue things, it's to fatigue them, so that they will stay out of the political process entirely regarding the truth as just too difficult to determine.
This is laying the groundwork for the months ahead. If Trump's White House is willing to lie about something as obviously, unquestionably fake as this, just imagine what else they'll lie about. In particular, things that the public cannot possibly verify the truth of. It's gonna get real bad.
UPDATE 1/22/17: This morning on MSNBC, Joy-Ann Reid, Joan Walsh and E.J. Dionne reiterated pretty much everything I've said above: