KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Consumers Urged To Give Another Try — Just Not Too Many Of Them

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that is "improved every day." But the administration delayed a big marketing campaign planned for December and is asking allies to hold back their enrollment pushes to avoid a crush of new users that might overwhelm the site again. Meanwhile, Politico reports that enrollment successes in some states show the law could work.

The New York Times: A Plea To Avoid Crush Of Users At Health Site
White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users. At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile (Shear and Pear, 11/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Website Deadline Nears
With the clock ticking toward a Saturday deadline, Obama administration officials promise that the website will work better. Exactly how much better? That is hard to say. The measure of success, repeated by an array of administration officials, is that the online marketplace intended to be used by millions of Americans to obtain health insurance would be working smoothly for the "vast majority of users" by Saturday, the last day of November (Nelson, 11/26).

Politico: State Successes Show Health Law Can Work
With all the waves of bad news about the Obamacare website and the canceled policies, it would be easy to conclude that nothing in this law will ever work -- that it's just too big and complicated and messy. But that's not the complete picture of the Affordable Care Act rollout. There are a few bright spots -- just enough to suggest that, for all the early disasters, the law's fate isn't final yet. There are states that are running their own websites and enrolling a lot of people, way more than the amateur-hour federal website that serves most of the states. Medicaid enrollment, another part of the law, is going significantly better than the signups for private insurance -- nearly 400,000 people were determined to be eligible in October (Nather, 11/27).

USA Today: Sebelius: Health Site Experience 'Improved Every Day'
State and local elected officials should "not hesitate" to tell their constituents to go to and sign up, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday. "We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of this month," Sebelius said. "But this isn't a magic turn-on switch. The experience is improved every day" (Kennedy, 11/26).

CNN: Sebelius: Obamacare Website Improvements 'On Track' 
With just days to go until a self-imposed deadline, fixes to the problem-plagued Obamacare website are "definitely on track," Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday. In a conference call with state and local officials, Sebelius added that "this isn't a magic 'turn on the on switch'" to fix, but a continual process in which "the experience is vastly improved each and every day” (Cohen, 11/26).

The Associated Press: Health Law's Spanish Sign Up-Up Tools Delayed
Add one more delay to the list for the rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law. This time, it's a postponement of the launch of online enrollment tools in Spanish (Johnson, 11/26).

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that the contractor responsible for the financial management part of the new marketplace was hired without bids--

CBS News: Obamacare Agency Rushed In Contractor Without Bids, Documents Show 
Caught flat-footed by the challenges of building the financial-management and accounting parts of the U.S. government's new online marketplace for health insurance, officials rushed to hire a familiar contractor without seeking competing bids, according to government procurement documents reviewed by Reuters. The documents dated in August -- less than two months before the opening of online marketplaces established by President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law -- showed the agency in charge had only "recently learned" that building the financial management functions was "beyond (its) currently available resources" (11/26).

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