KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Tech Official Says About 40% Of Remains To Be Built

Henry Chao, who has overseen much of the work on, said much of the "back office" work, including the system to send insurers their payments, has not been completed.

The Washington Post: Up To 40 Percent Of Obamacare's 'Back Office' Functions Yet To Be Built, Tech Chief Says
Henry Chao, the Obama administration official who oversaw the technical development of the federal health insurance marketplace, said Tuesday that his team has yet to complete 30 to 40 percent of the overall project. Speaking before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Oversight Committee, Chao said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is still working on a number of "back office" aspects of the project, including a system to send payments to insurance companies (Somashekhar, 11/19).

The New York Times: Health Insurance Marketplace Is Still About 40 Percent Incomplete, Official Says
The official, Henry Chao, made the assessment in testimony before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Lawmakers expressed surprise that so much work remained to be done seven weeks after the federal website opened to the public (Pear, 11/19).

The Wall Street Journal: New Tech Worries Loom For Health Law
A top government technology official told Congress on Tuesday that about 30% of the federal health-insurance marketplace "is still being developed," suggesting more tough hurdles await the administration even after the consumer portion,, is mostly fixed (Corbett Dooren, 11/19).

Politico: Tech Chief: Up To 40% Of Obamacare Work Left
A key player in the Obamacare website's creation acknowledged Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built. The revelation from Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services occurs as the administration works at its Nov. 30 deadline to shore up the website (Meyers, 11/20).

The Hill: ObamaCare IT Still 40 Percent Unfinished
?CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille explained that the back-end systems would allow the federal government to distribute tax subsidies and other payments to health insurance companies, but would not affect individual users. "It is not anything that is necessary in order for consumers to make a payment because that is something that they do outside of the marketplace, directly to issuers," she said (Hattem, 11/19).

Politico: CMS Sees Progress With Direct Plan Enrollment
Obama administration tech officials announced Tuesday that consumers can now enroll directly with insurers and avoid altogether, and their Obamacare subsidies will go with them. But insurance industry sources remained skeptical, citing a cumbersome repair effort over the past several weeks that has yet to prove itself. And officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said insurers have to try out the new system "in coming days" to see whether the federal portal can hold up  (Norman, 11/20).

Reuters: Some Cyber Security Experts Recommend Shutting Obamacare Site
President Barack Obama's site is riddled with security flaws that put user data of millions of people at risk and it should be shut down until fixed, several technology experts warned lawmakers on Tuesday. The testimony at a congressional hearing could increase concerns among many Americans about Obama's healthcare overhaul, popularly known as Obamacare. Opinion polls show the botched rollout of the online marketplace for health insurance policies has hurt the popularity of the effort (Finkle and Selyukh, 11/20).

CBS News: Serious Obamacare Concerns Obscured By Politics
Both Democrats and Republicans agree that there are serious concerns about the botched rollout and potential security issues on the site, but as Congress tries to get to the bottom of the site's problems, politics often gets in the way. "The exchanges need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed fast," Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said Tuesday in a House Energy and Commerce Committee subpanel hearing, referring to the new Obamacare marketplaces. However, she added, "We should not create smoke if there's no fire" (Condon, 11/19).

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