KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Issa Panel To Grill Top Tech Official About Health Law Rollout

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, who heads the House oversight committee, plans to put the nation's chief technology officer, Todd Park, on the hot seat today about the flawed rollout of the government website where consumers are supposed to be able to buy health insurance. The New York Times writes that Issa has long been one of the most aggressive thorns in the side of the Obama administration.

The New York Times: Health Law Rollout Provides Rich Target For Oversight Chief
Representative Darrell Issa has long been known on Capitol Hill as one of the most aggressive — some would say overzealous — thorns in the side of Obama administration, using his seat as chairman of the House oversight committee to trumpet any missteps that can be traced to the White House (Lipton and Stolberg, 11/12).

Los Angeles Times: Obama’s Top Tech On House Panel Hot Seat
Todd Park, the nation's chief technology officer, is the top tech expert in the U.S. government and the face of President Barack Obama's effort to bring the federal bureaucracy into the iPad era. The onetime entrepreneur, a 40-year-old wunderkind with two startups in his rearview mirror, is a Silicon Valley success story. But House Republicans are seeking to add a new chapter by forcing him to answer for one of the nation's highest-profile technology debacles: the flawed federal health insurance website (Parsons and Hennessey, 11/12).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Tech Team Missed Health-Site Alert
Even before he took office in 2009, President Barack Obama knew the government had problems with technology. So he introduced the concept of a White House "SWAT team," designed to swoop in and rescue big projects before they became disasters. … Members of Congress are zeroing in on White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, whose position was created by Mr. Obama. Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the House oversight committee chairman, subpoenaed Mr. Park to testify at a Wednesday hearing, and the White House said late Tuesday that Mr. Park would comply (Nagesh, 11/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Panel Investigates Whether White House Played A Role In ‘Obamacare’ Technology Debacle
Probing whether the White House shares blame for health-care website woes, the House’s chief investigator is delving into technical issues behind the dysfunctional rollout of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will explore concerns about online security in the sixth major congressional hearing since President Barack Obama’s computerized insurance markets went live Oct. 1 and millions of consumers encountered frozen screens (11/13).

Politico: Darrell Issa Panel To Grill Tech Officials On Obamacare
Obama administration tech gurus will get a rare time in the spotlight when they testify about the failed Obamacare rollout at a House hearing Wednesday. Congress has heard from the lead contractors on the project and top health officials. But the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing Wednesday will be the first time that five administration officials who were directly engaged with the technology behind the dysfunctional site will face questions in public about what went wrong (Norman and Villacorta, 11/13).

Reuters: Obama Tech Chief To Testify In Congress About Healthcare Website
A top White House technology adviser will testify at a congressional hearing on Wednesday about the troubled launch of the website at the heart of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform despite the administration's assertions that he was too busy. The White House confirmed late on Tuesday that Todd Park, its chief technology officer, would comply with a subpoena to testify at a hearing of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives Oversight Committee (Rampton, 11/12).

CBS News: Congress Turns Up The Heat In Hunt For Obamacare Answers
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee invited five administration officials to testify Wednesday morning on the rollout of, the dysfunctional website that serves as a portal to the Obamacare marketplaces for consumers in 36 states. One person they expect to hear from is Henry Chao,'s chief project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). According to excerpts CBS News obtained of closed-door testimony that Chao gave the committee earlier this month, he said he was unaware of a memo that laid out major security risks with the program (Condon, 11/13).

The Hill: Issa’s Next To Take A Swing At Botched ObamaCare Rollout
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will take his turn at hammering the rollout of ObamaCare on Wednesday when his panel hears testimony from five administration witnesses. The hearing will mark the culmination of a strategic assault on President Obama’s healthcare plan by congressional Republicans (Viebeck, 11/13).

Politico: Issa Panel Turns To Obamacare Tech
Henry Chao, the deputy IT chief at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for overseeing the website project, was deeply immersed in the nitty gritty of A long-time CMS official who has served under both Democrats and Republicans, Chao is also in a position to address some of Issa’s key allegations. The White House announced Tuesday night that its chief technology officer, Todd Park, will testify. The administration initially refused to make Park available this week, saying it would divert him as he’s immersed in helping lead the repair work for (Norman, 11/13).

Meanwhile, tech experts express skepticism that can be fixed in less than three weeks --

The Fiscal Times: No Hope Left For Obamacare’s Website, Techies Say
According to tech experts, the sorry state of the current website does little to inspire confidence that it can be fixed and functional in less than three weeks. “When I visited on October 1, that was the worst piece of software I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Luke Chung, founder and CEO of the software company FMS. “It had nothing to do with too many users. It couldn’t serve one user.” According to Sumit Nijhawan, CEO of Infogix, a data security firm working with private insurers, even if the White House can fix the problems associated with the site, they're going to find new ones immediately. Nijhawan also warned that the systems that allow CMS and health insurance companies to exchange information are nowhere close to being ready, meaning tech problems could last years (Francis, 11/13).

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