Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee: King of tech startups?

It’s hard to believe, but on the same day that Inslee spent most of his morning playing a game of cat and mouse with his own words following a launch-day meltdown of the state’s new healthcare insurance exchange website, a prominent tech group announced that Washington state’s chief executive would be one of the featured speakers at its annual startup symposium.

Prominent Seattle-area tech blog Geekwire posted an announcement on its functioning website at 9:53 a.m. regarding Inslee’s participation in its Startup Day 2013 event.

At the same time, Team Inslee was fielding a tsunami of complaints emanating from a botched launch of the WAHealthPlanFinder.org portal, the state-managed website where Washingtonians can now go to learn how much more we’re going to pay for health insurance under Obamacare and how much less coverage we’re going to receive.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the site broke down within an hour of going live. [bold added]

Officials had to shut down the website for Washington state’s new health exchange today — just an hour after it went public.

Healthplanfinder, the state’s online marketplace for buying health insurance, has been down since about 8:30 a.m. to perform maintenance after the state heard complaints from the public. …

The call center for the exchange had received roughly 2,000 calls by 10 a.m.

Undeterred by the reality of the circumstances, Inslee commenced a noontime press conference in which he brushed aside the reality of the situation, bragging to reporters about the “all hands on deck” effort state government had launched to educate the public about the new method for researching healthcare options.

Yet, still, the website defied Inslee’s boastful claims and administrators were forced to take it completely offline.

As of 3:45 pm Tuesday, the landing page of the site loaded for me, but only after a grueling 35 seconds.

After clicking on the link to research available health coverage plans, I waited another excruciating half-minute only to receive a broken page and no way to go further.

Washington state is a braintrust when it comes to website design. You can’t throw a thumbdrive in these parts without hitting a boutique firm that can create sites that blend form and function, style and usability.

On any given day, Inslee’s blunder would just be another example of what happens when state voters elect someone who has made a career out of talking, not doing. But today is not just any other day; today the federal government is shut down and the full implementation of Obamacare is taking place. Today, Inslee’s press conference was called to trumpet the great benefits of the government-managed health coverage system, and instead gave us front row seats to a demonstration of why the government quite often fails when it tries to do what should be private sector work.

And the failure of Washington’s health exchange website was not an isolated case. FoxNews.com reported problems with sites managed by several other states, as well as the national hub run by the federal government, healthcare.gov.

All of this at a time when the national attention is focused on a fight between Democrats and Republicans over delaying implementation of Obamacare, a system that Pres. Obama and congressional Democrats assure us will work better than private sector reforms of healthcare.

This is just the Inslee beta test. We haven’t even gotten to the phase where people start receiving (or not receiving) care under the new scheme.

Does anyone want a mulligan on their 2012 ballot?