KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Gives Thumbs Up To Website Fixes And Upgrades

The health law website reportedly now is operating 90 percent of the time, but more work still must be done, according to the Obama administration's Sunday progress report on their efforts to correct's problems.  

The Washington Post: Meets Deadline For Fixes, Obama Administration Says
After a series of technical fixes and capacity upgrades, many of which were made over the past week, is now working more than 90 percent of the time — a big improvement over October, when the site was operating only about 43 percent of the time and frequently crashed, said Jeffrey Zients, the administration official overseeing the improvements. … Even with the improved performance, some people are likely to encounter problems on the site. And there is another worry — reports sent to insurance companies about who has enrolled in health plans include errors that could cause problems when people try to use their new insurance plans next year (Somashekhar and Sun, 12/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Gov’t Diagnosis: On The Mend
Yet officials acknowledged more work remains on the website, which made its national debut two months ago with hundreds of software flaws, inadequate equipment and inefficient management. Federal workers and private contractors have undertaken an intense reworking of the system, but some users might still encounter trouble. How many problems are left? That’s the question consumers and lawmakers alike will be eying before the next crucial deadline: Dec. 23 (12/2).

Los Angeles Times: Major Health Website Bugs Fixed, Officials Say, But More Work Needed
The Obama administration said Sunday it had met its deadline to fix the major problems that have hobbled the federal healthcare website since its disastrous debut two months ago, but officials acknowledged that further repairs were necessary. … Administration officials concede that the site still may not be able to handle the crush of people expected to seek insurance this month. Consumers need to select health plans by Dec. 23 if they want coverage to begin Jan. 1. During peak times, some consumers may be put into a queue to gain access, officials said (Levey and Mascaro, 12/1).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Website Repair Goals Reached, Administration Says
President Barack Obama raised the stakes on his three-year-old health-care overhaul yesterday, declaring that fixes to his administration’s troubled insurance exchange website make it ready to sign up 800,000 people a day. The site,, is sure to be tested immediately today -- “Cyber Monday” -- when deals from online retailers draw more Americans to their computers and the Internet (Wayne and Nussbaum, 12/2).

Politico: Redone Faces New Test
The test will start on what’s expected to be heavier Web traffic on Monday. And it will last through Dec. 23, the deadline for millions of people — including those who have had their policies canceled — who want to log on and get coverage that starts on Jan. 1. The soft relaunch on Sunday also resets the effort by the administration and its health care allies to have 7 million people sign up in Obamacare insurance exchanges in the next four months. If people can sign on and get covered, the White House hopes, it could start rebuilding support for President Barack Obama’s signature health law and confidence in the president himself (Haberkorn, 12/1).

Reuters: U.S. HealthCare.Gov Website Faces New Tests As Traffic Builds
President Barack Obama and his website face another critical test starting this week, as Americans who have been unable to enroll in health coverage under Obamacare rush to a site that continues to face challenges. A day after the administration said it met its weekend deadline for making operate smoothly for most users, networks of volunteer organizations are expected to resume enrollment activities after a long U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend, many of them with backlogs of would-be applicants waiting for access (Morgan, 12/2).

The Fiscal Times: Democrats Double-Down On Obamacare Revamp
Democrats at both the national and local levels voiced a full-throated endorsement of the Obamacare web site Sunday, one day after the administration’s self-imposed deadline to improve the broken site. Speaking on Sunday talks shows, Democrats – some of whom appeared to be wavering in their support for the troubled health care law last month – said that the fixes made to the site were a positive step. They also said that they believed the Obama administration would meet their enrollment goal of 7 million by the end of March (Francis, 12/1).

The Fiscal Times: Will Obamacare Tech Fixes Plug Political Fallout? 
The administration’s announcement over the weekend that it has achieved its promised goal of making the Obamacare website workable for the “vast majority” of users was the first piece of genuinely positive news since the disastrous rollout began Oct. 1 – one that may  have staunched the political hemorrhaging at the White House. The newly improved on-line system probably will get its first big test this week when people emerge from the Thanksgiving holiday determined to sign up or curious about the government’s claims of a vastly improving system. At the same time, critics and opponents will be watching closely or testing the system in search of new cracks (Pianin, 12/2).

Meanwhile, in terms of the numbers the site has handled so far -

Bloomberg: Obamacare Website Sign-Ups Said To Reach 100,000 In Month
About 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online federal exchange last month, a roughly four-fold increase from October even as a team of U.S. government and contractor programmers was fixing the troubled Affordable Care Act website, said a person familiar with program’s progress (Goldman, 12/2).

Marketplace: ACA Enrollment: Lessons From Social Security And Medicare
We’re coming up on two months since the government started signing folks up for the new Obamacare health exchanges, and let’s just say it hasn’t been the smoothest rollout in American history. If you look back a bit, there are a few times the government has pretty successfully managed to enroll a huge number of people. Like Social Security, and Medicare. So what’s so different this time? (LeMoult, 11/27).

Kaiser Health News also compiled Sunday's news coverage of the Obama administration’s progress report on website fixes (12/1).

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