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 »
"The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime." The referral occurred "after the inspector general concluded McCabe had lied to investigators or his own boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, on four occasions, three of them under oath." The referral does "not necessarily mean McCabe will be charge with a crime ... although the report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies 'was done knowingly and intentionally.'"
A federal appeals court in Chicago "upheld a nationwide injunction against making federal grant funding contingent on cooperation with immigration enforcement." The three Republican appointees ruled that the Trump administration "exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress ... One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Reagan appointee Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction solely to protect Chicago. However, the two other judges assigned to the case said the nationwide injunction appeared to be justified."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley "decided Thursday to delay markup" on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller until next week. But he remains steadfast in his support for a committee vote, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "pledge to kill it" if it gets to the floor.
"The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee says Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is poised to subpoena the Justice Department for former FBI Director James Comey’s memos, which the agency so far has failed to produce. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., warned such a move puts Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in jeopardy of being placed in contempt of Congress and the special counsel investigation of being shut down prematurely."