KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Despite ‘Fast Recovery,’ Website Faces Challenges; Calif. GOP’s ‘Underhanded’ Tactic; Obama’s Work On Website Disappoints

The New York Times: Fast Recovery For Health Care Website
The Obama administration says it has made enormous improvements in its website for enrolling consumers in new health insurance plans. There are still major hurdles to surmount, but the strides made raise the prospects that the website will be able to help millions of Americans buy policies from private insurers on new insurance exchanges. ... That dire situation at the front end of the process has been largely corrected through a frantic repair effort over the past five weeks, but it won't be enough unless the final back-end stage of enrollment is fixed as well (12/2). 

Los Angeles Times: An Underhanded Anti-Obamacare Stunt By The California GOP
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act never stop producing new tricks to undermine the reform's effectiveness. But leave it to California Republicans to reach for the bottom. Their goal appears to be to discredit the act by highlighting its costs and penalties rather than its potential benefits. The device chosen by the Assembly's GOP caucus is a website at the address If that sounds suspiciously like, which is the real website for the California insurance exchange, it may not be a coincidence. Bogus insurance websites have sprung up all over, aiming to steer consumers away from legitimate enrollment services (Michael Hiltzik, 12/2).

Los Angeles Times: Not A Good Enough Obamacare Fix
Success! The Obama administration announced over the weekend that it had hit its deadline of Nov. 30 for Of course, there were caveats. The site will still probably get buggy when there's a lot of traffic, which is why Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius advised people to use it at off-peak hours. But that simply means peak hours will be moved to after midnight. After all, you don't alleviate crowding if you tell everyone to try a different door (Jonah Goldberg, 12/3).

Los Angeles Times: By Fumbling The Healthcare Website, Obama Disappoints
He's supposed to be the technology president, propelled into office by his team's expertise in social media, Internet tracking and online fundraising. Today, he looks like the fumbler-in-chief, clueless and groveling. It's hard to miss the irony as President Obama's grand idea hobbles out of the starting gate, tripped up by technological blunders and bureaucratic bumbling (Sandy Banks, 12/2).

The Washington Post: Obamacare Is Here To Stay
Winds were calm in the capital on Monday, except in the immediate vicinity of the White House, where gale-force exhalations were blowing out of the West Wing. After the administration's claim Sunday that star-crossed had been repaired with "private sector velocity," and the site's relatively smooth functioning on Monday, Obama administration officials moved with aerospace-sector velocity to celebrate meeting their self-imposed deadline (Dana Milbank, 12/2).

USA Today: Obamacare Isn't Perfect, But It's A Decent Fix
As the problems with, the website marketplace for individual health insurance for people in states which opted not to run their own health care exchanges, begin to fade, we will have more of an opportunity to examine the deeper flaws in the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare (Duncan Black, 12/3). 

Bloomberg: HealthCare.Gov Is 'Fixed.' What Will Go Wrong Next?
The quick improvements may be impressive, but they also cast the failure to prepare the site for its Oct. 1 debut in an even harsher light. President Barack Obama can no longer claim that the three years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law wasn't enough time to build a functioning website. But the software repair measurements miss the crucial metric: the number of people who sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange. The test of the fixes will be the extent to which they accelerate those sign-ups, which reportedly reached 100,000 in November (12/2).

Bloomberg: Does Obamacare Put Too Much Faith In Markets?
The idea of Obamacare was to harness the power of the market to deliver better health care. Perhaps the resulting monstrosity is our punishment for being so slow to see that markets aren't the solution to everything (Mark Buchanan, 12/2).

Fox News: It's A Clark Kent Moment For Republicans – How GOP Can Take Back Middle Class After Democrats' ObamaCare Mess
Each week offers new cause for alarm: whether a dysfunctional website rife with opportunity for security breaches, health care cancellation notices, or sharp increases in health care premiums, ObamaCare has quickly devolved into a political third rail for the Democratic party. Out of the ashes of ObamaCare, however, rises a golden opportunity for the Republican party – so long as the GOP's leadership has the presence of mind to grasp the full implications of this historic moment (John Jordan, 12/2).

The Chicago Sun-Times: Obamacare's Lesson: Government Does Stuff Badly
We conservatives are always on about the "unintended consequences" of government programs, but we didn't expect the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to provide such a vivid object lesson. If the tipsy, teetering debut of Obamacare invites a new skepticism about the capacity of government to run things, it will be the most welcome unintended consequence since Alexander Fleming left his staphylococci samples on a workbench over summer vacation. Government programs, after all, fail frequently but are almost never held to account, far less held up to ridicule (Mona Charen, 12/2).

On another issue -

The Wall Street Journal: Don't Get Your Operation On A Thursday
New York, five other states and the District of Columbia are considering legislation that would mandate minimum hospital-nurse staffing levels. The Massachusetts Nurses Association is planning an initiative for the November 2014 state ballot asking voters to approve a law setting minimum staffing levels for all hospitals, a change they say would alleviate the dangerous strain on overworked nurses and result in improved patient care. The nursing associations in the six states (including Texas, Iowa, Mass., N.J. and Minn.) fervently support such legislation. In turn, hospitals vehemently oppose staffing mandates (Eugene Litvak, 12/2).

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