KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Oversight Panel Grills Administration Tech Officials On Website Woes

The White House's chief technology officer, Todd Park, told the committee that teams are working aggressively to get the website functioning "for the vast majority" of consumers by the administration's Nov. 30 deadline. Meanwhile, a second panel heard testimony about website and security concerns.

The New York Times: Health Website Official Tells Of White House Briefings
The chief digital architect for the federal health insurance marketplace said Wednesday that he met periodically with White House aides to discuss the status of the website over the last three years, but he said the meetings focused narrowly on specific technical issues and therefore gave the president no clear warning of the disaster that ensued on Oct. 1 (Pear and Lipton, 11/13).

Los Angeles Times: Officials Won't Commit To Meeting Deadline For Health Website Fix
A top administration official Wednesday stopped short of guaranteeing that technical issues with the new healthcare website would be largely resolved by the president's Nov. 30 deadline, heightening Democrats' concerns about the political fallout of ongoing problems with the implementation of the new law. Asked whether the government's site would be working properly by the end of the month as expected, Chief Technology Officer Todd Park sounded less confident than the recent assurances coming from the White House (Memoli, 11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Aides Grilled On Website Woes
A top White House technology official told a House committee Wednesday that can currently handle up to 25,000 website users at the same time. White House chief technology officer Todd Park said technology teams were working aggressively to fix the website and get it working "for the vast majority" of Americans by the Nov. 30 deadline set by the administration.  The federal agency running, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, originally envisioned a site with capacity to handle up to 60,000 concurrent users, Mr. Park said. Heavy usage of the site is expected near the Dec. 15 deadline for people to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1 (Corbett Dooren and Radnofsky, 11/13).

Politico: Darrel Issa Hearing Shows Obamacare Deadline Slipping
For the few dribbles of information that came out about the Obamacare website at the latest congressional hearing Wednesday, there sure were a lot of fireworks. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee spent four and half hours at each other's throats. Chairman Darrell Issa snarked his way through several rounds of questions, Democrats complained that Republicans were pointing fingers at the White House without any proof, and Issa accused Democrats of trying to "rehabilitate" Obama administration witnesses (Nather, 11/13).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Official: HealthCare.Gov Shopping Feature Failed 'Miserably'
A feature of that would allow consumers to comparison shop for insurance plans without identifying themselves was blocked when the insurance exchange opened on Oct. 1 because it wasn’t working well, an Obama administration official said, denying allegations from Republican lawmakers that it was disabled to prevent "sticker shock" (Dooren, 11/13).

Other testimony examined security issues -

ABC News: Obamacare Website Targeted About 16 Times By Cyber Attacks
The troubled Affordable Care Act website has been subject to "a handful" of hacking attempts, including at least one intended to bring the site down, a Department of Homeland Security official told lawmakers today. But considering that some federal websites get hundreds of cyber-assaults each day, the approximately 16 reported attacks on is a surprisingly small number, experts said (Newcomb & Larontonda, 11/13).

CNN: Official: Hackers Tried Repeatedly To Attack Obamacare Website
Hackers have attempted more than a dozen cyber attacks against the Obamacare website, according to a top Homeland Security Department official. The attacks, which are under investigation, failed, said the official. Authorities also are investigating a separate report of a tool designed to put heavy strain on through a so-called distributed denial of service. It does not appear to have been activated (Johns and Samuel, 11/13).

Politico: New Security Issues Emerge For ACA Site
The government team working most closely to launch sought little advice from cybersecurity experts at the Department of Homeland Security — but DHS said it's limited by law in the help it could have provided in the first place. An incensed Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), leader of the House Homeland Security Committee, opened a hearing on the website Wednesday with charges that DHS "has not participated in any meaningful way in developing, monitoring or ensuring the security of, the health exchanges or the federal data services hub" (Romm, 11/13).

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