KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Dems Grow Frustrated With Obamacare Website, Impact On Broader Law

Even some Obama allies are calling for major changes -- as well as someone's firing -- after the technically flawed rollout of the health law's online insurance marketplace. Democrats are also worried about what the problems could do to support for the broader law, and some are even calling for a delay to a mandate that Americans buy insurance.

Los Angeles Times: Obama Allies Join In Criticism Of Health Care Website
The rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act again came under sharp criticism Wednesday, three weeks into the launch, but this time some of the loudest voices were among top Democrats, including President Obama's closest allies. Democrats on Capitol Hill said they were unhappy with the performance of the Obamacare website, which has been plagued with problems since its debut Oct. 1. Even the president's longtime campaign guru, David Axelrod, was critical of the administration's handling of the issue (Mascaro and Parsons, 10/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Frustrated Dems Lament Damage Glitchy 'Obamacare' Website Has Inflicted On Broader Law
Frustrated Democrats lamented Wednesday that persistent problems with new health care exchanges have inflicted damage on the public's perception of the already unpopular "Obamacare" -- with some lawmakers insisting President Barack Obama should ensure those responsible lose their jobs. Emerging from a closed-door briefing with health officials from the Obama administration, House Democrats appeared to have at least as many questions as answers about how and when the beleaguered website will be fixed. Although they resolved not to let setbacks with one aspect of the health law outshine the parts that are working, they griped that the shoddy website had given Republicans an opening to do just that (10/23).

Politico: Hill Democrats Frustrated By Obamacare Rollout
House Democrats voiced growing frustration and anger with the broken Obamacare enrollment site on Wednesday as administration officials tried to reassure them that will be repaired. Democrats, who labored to get the Affordable Care Act through Congress in the first year of the Obama presidency, said they wanted the administration to share details of what's wrong and when it will be fixed (Haberkorn and Allen, 10/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Some Dems Say Obama Should Fire Those Responsible For Problems With Website
The principal contractors responsible for the federal government's trouble-plagued health insurance website say the Obama administration shares responsibility for the snags that have crippled the system. Executives of CGI Federal, which built the federal website serving 36 states, and QSSI, which designed the part that verifies applicants' income and other personal details, are testifying Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee (10/24).

Fox News: Dems Join Call To Delay Obamacare Mandate Amid Website Failures
Several Democratic senators are calling on the Obama administration to delay enforcement of the health care law's individual mandate, joining their Republican colleagues in saying it would be unfair to penalize Americans for failing to buy insurance when the primary sign-up website doesn't work. The Democratic dominoes began to fall quickly Wednesday, after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., circulated a letter urging President Obama to extend enrollment beyond March 31, 2014 (10/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Democratic Unease Grows On Health Law
The hard line Democrats have drawn against delaying a core element of the federal health law has begun to crack, as problems with the new federal insurance website prompted calls for President Barack Obama to delay penalties on people who don't carry health coverage (Hughes and Nelson, 10/23).

Politico: Red State Democrats Propose Changes To Obamacare
The Obama administration's day ended much as it began, with Democrats frustrated over Obamacare's rollout. After the administration briefed House Democrats on the myriad remaining issues with, red and swing-state Democratic senators began to call for further changes to Obamacare (Everett and Kim, 10/24).

McClatchy: Democrats Call For Changes To Obama’s Health Care Law
Republicans have always been harsh critics of Obamacare. Now President Barack Obama's signature health care law is taking heat from Democrats, too. More than three weeks after the problem-plagued rollout of the federal marketplace where consumers can sign up for health insurance, support for major provisions of the Affordable Care Act is weakening among some Democrats, who want to see someone fired over the botched debut (Pugh and Lightman, 10/23).

The Associated Press: Shaheen Asks For Extension For Health Enrollment
As website glitches make it difficult for consumers to sign up for health insurance under the new federal health care overhaul law, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is requesting for an extension on the open-enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014. In a letter to President Barack Obama, Shaheen suggested the extension to provide greater flexibility for people seeking access to health insurance (Fram and Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/24).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Administration Spells Out Those Health Care Site Problems -- And Its Efforts To Fix Them
On the defensive, the Obama administration acknowledged Wednesday its problem-plagued health insurance website didn't get enough testing before going live. It said technicians were deep into the job of fixing major computer snags but provided no timetable. Democratic unhappiness with the situation began growing louder -- including one call for President Barack Obama to "man up" and fire someone -- as the president's allies began to fret about the political fallout. Democrats had hoped to run for re-election touting the benefits of the health care law for millions of uninsured Americans, but the computer problems are keeping many people from signing up (10/23).

Reuters: More Democrats Voice Obamacare Concerns As Website Blame Goes Around
The contractors for the government's troubled healthcare website sought to deflect blame on Wednesday as more Democrats voiced concerns about the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy. Administration officials, in damage-control mode for nearly a week, held a closed-door briefing for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and a private session with insurance company executives, who said they would assist in efforts to fix the website (Morgan and Felsenthal, 10/23).

Meanwhile, on the bright side for Democrats -

The Washington Post's Post Politics: Democrats Rally Around Health-Care Law After Shutdown
Despite a series of problems with the Web site for President Obama's new health care exchanges, support for the law is up slightly. A new Gallup poll shows support has increased four points since August, thanks to a rise in support from Democrats (Blake, 10/23).

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