KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Is Back In The Hot Seat

Now that lawmakers have an extension on pressing budget issues, they are refocusing attention on the health law's "rocky rollout." For instance, GOP leaders are pressing administration officials for answers about what's gone wrong with the federal online health insurance marketplace.

The Wall Street Journal: Attention Likely To Shift To Health Law
The end of Washington's budget showdown is likely to shift attention back to President Barack Obama's health law and its rocky rollout, news of which was sometimes submerged in the past 16 days of struggle. Both the government shutdown and the opening of new online health-insurance exchanges happened on the same day, Oct. 1. Republicans tried to defund Mr. Obama's law as part of a deal to reopen the government, but the law emerged virtually unscathed. The greater damage to the law, it turns out, has been self-inflicted: Officials and contractors charged with getting the federally run exchange up and running instead produced a problem-plagued website that has blocked many people from shopping for coverage. Even when people do sign up, private insurers have warned that the information they are getting about the enrollees may be flawed (Radnofsky and Weaver, 10/17).

Reuters: Republicans Press U.S. Officials Over Obamacare Snags
Republicans in Congress chastised President Barack Obama's top health adviser on Thursday for declining to testify before an oversight panel about problems in rolling out the president's signature healthcare program known as Obamacare. Less than a day after Congress ended a 16-day partial government shutdown precipitated by Republican demands to delay or defund Obamacare, they sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding she make officials available for the October 24 hearing (Morgan, 10/17).

CNN: Congressional Fight Over Obamacare Turns To Website Woes
The deal ending the shutdown may not have put a dent in Obamacare, but the battle over implementing the health coverage law is not over. One venue that Republicans are turning to for leverage, starting next week: oversight hearings, beginning with some tough questions about why the rollout of the website for enrolling in health care exchanges is having so many problems. "The American people deserve to know what caused this mess," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Delays and technical failures have reached epidemic proportions” (McConnell and Todd, 10/18).

Fox News: House Panel Questions Firms Paid $$ For Troubled Obamacare Website
A House committee is probing the widespread technical problems with the launch of the ObamaCare website, including the contractors that were paid hundreds of millions of dollars to create it. The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Thursday they have scheduled a hearing on the issue for Oct. 24, and have asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to attend. Committee member Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Thursday night he wants Sebelius to testify at the hearing but she has not so far responded "favorably" to the proposition (10/18).

NPR: Despite Being Friends, Sen. Roberts Tries To Oust Sebelius
While Republicans failed to undo any part of Obamacare before reopening the government and lifting the debt ceiling, their detest for the program is unchanged. One manifestation is a quiet movement to oust Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Gonyea, 10/18).

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