Pressure Mounts for Obamacare Fixes as Deadline Looms

None

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: Todd Park (C), U.S. Chief Technology Officer of the White House Office of Science and Technology testifies while Frank Baitman (L), Deputy Assistant HHS Secretary for Information Technology, and VanRoekel (R) U.S. Chief Information Officer listen during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Affordable Health Care Act roll out November 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on Obamacare implementation and the problems with the HealthCare.gov. website. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Nov. 13, 2013, 9:51 a.m.

The in­form­a­tion-tech­no­logy of­fi­cials testi­fy­ing at a House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form hear­ing Wed­nes­day were re­served in their con­fid­ence that the Obama­care fed­er­al ex­change web­site would in fact be re­paired by the end of Novem­ber.

“The goal that has been laid out is for the site not to be per­fect, but for the vast ma­jor­ity to be able to use it,” White House Chief Tech­no­logy Of­ficer Todd Park said at the hear­ing. “It’s a goal we’re gun­ning for, and we’re work­ing very hard get there.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion had set the end of Novem­ber as the goal to have Health­Care.gov run­ning smoothly for the vast ma­jor­ity of users. Re­pairs are be­ing made around the clock, but con­fid­ence may be dwind­ling for how fully func­tion­al the site will be.

An of­fi­cial told The Wash­ing­ton Post that per­sist­ent prob­lems mean that the site is un­likely to be fully func­tion­al by Nov. 30, though the White House main­tains the goal is still achiev­able.

Time is run­ning short for both con­sumers and in­surers to fig­ure out their cov­er­age op­tions. The dead­line to en­roll for cov­er­age that is ef­fect­ive Jan. 1 is Dec. 15.

Can­cel­la­tion let­ters from in­sur­ance com­pan­ies are adding ex­tra strain to the situ­ation. If in­di­vidu­als whose plans are can­celed are not able to en­roll in new cov­er­age by mid-Decem­ber, they will be un­in­sured un­til they are able to sign up.

Amid the grow­ing pres­sure, even Demo­crat­ic law­makers are in­creas­ingly sup­port­ing le­gis­la­tion that would con­tin­ue can­celed policies at least an­oth­er year.

At the House hear­ing, Reps. James Lank­ford, R-Okla., and Michelle Lu­jan Grisham, D-N.M., ad­dressed the cov­er­age gap that could oc­cur if the web­site is not fixed soon.

“We’ve been fight­ing a long time in New Mex­ico to find ways to ac­cess af­ford­able health care. I need, we need, our con­stitu­ents need the web­site to work,” said Grisham, who noted that nearly 25 per­cent of people in her state are un­in­sured. “The end of Novem­ber leaves very little room for er­ror. I know it’s not easy, but I want to make sure for the re­cord that there’s real ur­gency here.”

Asked wheth­er he felt that same ur­gency, Park answered, “Ab­so­lutely.”

Yet when asked re­peatedly by mem­bers of the com­mit­tee wheth­er he could be cer­tain the site would be func­tion­ing by Nov. 30, Park avoided mak­ing any prom­ises. “The team is work­ing really hard to hit that goal, and that’s what I’m able to say right now,” he said.

“As a former Web de­veloper that’s what I was telling cli­ents when we were go­ing to miss a dead­line,” re­marked Rep. Blake Far­enthold, R-Texas.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
2 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×