KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

‘Tech Surge’ Mounted To Fix

The Obama administration promised Sunday to enlist experts both inside and outside the government to solve the problems that have crippled and caused consumers frustration as they attempt to shop for coverage. But some federal contractors worry the system may be weeks away from operating smoothly.

The New York Times: Contractors See Weeks Of Work On Health Site
Federal contractors have identified most of the main problems crippling President Obama's online health insurance marketplace, but the administration has been slow to issue orders for fixing those flaws, and some contractors worry that the system may be weeks away from operating smoothly, people close to the project say (LaFraniere, Austen and Pear, 10/20).

The Washington Post:'s Glitches Prompt Obama To Call In More Computer Experts
The Obama administration said Sunday that it has enlisted additional computer experts from across the government and from private companies to help rewrite computer code and make other improvements to the online health insurance marketplace, which has been plagued by technical defects that have stymied many consumers since it opened nearly three weeks ago. This expanded team has come up with new ways of monitoring which parts of the federal Web site,, are having problems and has been taking the site offline for rigorous overnight tests, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman (Goldstein, 10/20).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: 'Tech Surge' Planned To Fix Obamacare Exchanges
The Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday it was bringing in outside help to resolve some of the technical woes that have beset the federally run insurance exchanges, which the agency acknowledged "has not lived up to the expectations of the American people" (Radnofsky, 10/20).

Politico: Tech 'Surge' To Tackle Obamacare Websites
The Health and Human Services statement didn't explain everything that's wrong, or give technical details about the repairs underway. It outlined some steps being taken to fix the site, including updates with "new code that includes bug fixes." The department also says it's installing monitors to catch parts of the website that are proving the most troublesome for consumers. And it also said it had seen some improvements in wait times and consumer access to the website, the online portal to health insurance exchanges or marketplaces the federal government is running in 36 states (Millman, 10/20).

Politico: HHS Makes Changes To Obamacare Home Page
Health and Human Services officials announced Sunday that consumer-friendly changes have been made to the homepage of the troubled Obamacare enrollment website. The changes to the homepage aim to relieve some user frustration — but it isn't a wider fix to the buggy and crash-plagued signup system (Kenen, 10/20).

USA Today: HHS 'Committed To Doing Better' On Insurance Exchanges
Signaling a shift in tone in acknowledging problems with the launch of the Affordable Care Act website, the government posted a blog Sunday taking responsibility for issues millions of Americans have had trying to sign up for health insurance (Kennedy, 10/20).

NBC News: Damage Control: Administration Pledges Obamacare Enrollment Fixes
As the Obama administration scrambles to rectify the rocky rollout of the online health care marketplace, the Health Department said Sunday that it has enlisted the "best and brightest" to help fix the website's torrent of technical glitches and bugs as the president prepares to address the problems at the White House on Monday. "Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a blog post published Sunday. The blog post also says technology officials have been working "around the clock" to ensure that individuals can create accounts and apply for health care coverage without any digital roadblocks (Welker and Arkin, 10/20).

CBS News: Outside Help Called In To Fix Obamacare Website
The Obama administration has called in additional help from inside and outside the government to fix glitches that have plagued the Obamacare website. Critics say the issues reveal that Obamacare is a bad idea, while the White House says half a million people have successfully enrolled (Pegues, 10/20).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Hustles To End Delays As Deadline Talk Grows
The Obama administration said it has reached out to the "best and brightest" from inside and outside of government to get its health-insurance exchange up to speed, even as it faces another missed deadline for the rollout. The promised debut this week of a Spanish-language version of its website is uncertain after an administration spokeswoman said no date had yet been set for it (Wayne, Armstrong and Nussbaum, 10/21).

The Fiscal Times: Can An Army Of Private Programmers Fix Obamacare?
The Congressional Budget Office established two simple benchmarks for Obamacare to meet in its projections last February: 1) 7 million Americans would receive private insurance through the exchanges; and 2) 8 million more Americans would enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That means 15 million Americans total would have health insurance coverage. The administration is currently on pace to get a fraction of those projections. Millward Brown estimates that just 36,000 Americans bought insurance through Obamacare during the first five days of the online exchanges. Just 2 percent of the 9.47 million unique visitors to the federal exchange during that period even began the application process. (Boak and Ehley, 10/21).

Fox News: ObamaCare Site Glitches Run Risk Of Turning Off Millenials
The prolonged glitches with the ObamaCare website are frustrating many of the president’s most high-valued customers -- the young, tech-savvy generation that helped him win two terms and whose participation is critical to the success of the health care exchanges (10/19).

The Kansas City Star: Glitches Persist In Health Insurance Marketplace Mandated By Obamacare
Would-be health insurance buyers and the merely curious continue to be frustrated by the rocky rollout of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Nearly three weeks into the planned launch of this centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, Kansas City area residents, as well as millions nationally, are unable to get enough policy details to make purchase decisions (Stafford, 10/21).

The Fiscal Times: Obamacare Tech Fail May Do What The GOP Couldn't
The myriad of obstacles raise questions as to whether the White House will be forced to push back deadlines and even postpone the tax penalty for Americans who forgo health coverage. “There are so many key technical problems you can’t sum them up,” said Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a policy and marketplace consulting firm. “I mean, it’s [Internet] architectural problems at the front end, it’s coding problems in terms of the inefficiency in the way the system works and wastes people’s time, and it’s screens that freeze. And then connections between insurance companies simply aren’t working” (Pianin, 10/21).

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