After advising consumers to steer clear of Healthcare.gov in October, Consumer Reports health care expert Nancy Metcalf told MSNBC's Chuck Todd Tuesday morning that the federal health care exchange website was improved enough following the Obama administration's frantic month of repairs that users could confidently use it. [...] "Now we're saying, 'it's time,'" Metcalf said, in particular praising the new window-shopping function, in which users can peruse health plans without registering with the site. The requirement to make an account before viewing options was considered one of the main causes for the site's initial traffic bottleneck. "It's terrific, I've tried it, it was working yesterday through the busiest times," Metcalf said.
Over the last month or so, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have eagerly touted Consumer Reports' "opposition" to healthcare.gov -- for the right, if the independent, consumer-friendly outlet disapproves of the administration's exchange marketplace, it proves ... Obamacare is bad.
In reality, Consumer Reports' position has always been more nuanced than conservative activists and lawmakers would have us believe. The consumer advocates, for example, defended the Obama administration from criticism on canceled plans through the individual market, rejecting Republican talking points altogether. Consumer Reports also played a role in debunking some of the ACA horror stories that the right has been so invested in.
That said, the consumer advocates did warn the public about the problems plaguing healthcare.gov, urging Americans to wait until the site improved before creating accounts and selecting insurance (though Consumer Reports pushed back against far-right efforts to exploit the position). Today, however, it reversed course and changed its verdict.
If recent history is any guide, opponents of the law will argue, indefinitely, that "even Consumer Reports opposes" healthcare.gov, but for those concerned with the facts, the consumer advocates' position now seems fairly clear.