KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

The White House Names Zients To Be Fixer

Jeffrey D. Zients, who previously served as the Office of Management and Budget chief performance officer, is already a tested administration troubleshooter. 

The New York Times: Sebelius Names Administration Veteran To Lead Tech Repair Efforts
The Obama administration did not look far for someone to lead the so-called tech surge to fix its troubled health insurance Web site: Jeffrey D. Zients, a management trouble-shooter already in line to take over as the chief White House economic adviser on Jan. 1, until then will manage the effort to resolve the technical failures (Calmes, 10/22).

Los Angeles Times: White House Brings In Help To Fix Healthcare Website
A familiar troubleshooter has been enlisted to try to fix the government's health insurance website, administration officials said Tuesday, as political pressure piled up over the centerpiece of President Obama's healthcare law. Jeffrey Zients, a former acting director at the Office of Management and Budget, will assist the Department of Health and Human Services with "short-term advice, assessments and recommendations," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Zients has served as the chief performance officer at OMB, a job aimed at improving government technology and efficiency (Hennessey, 10/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Who Ya Gonna Call? Obama Calls Trusted Fixer To Work On Health Care Site’s Embarrassing Woes
When a federal program that promised cash rebates to people who traded in their clunkers for more fuel-efficient vehicles was overrun by demand, President Barack Obama assigned Jeffrey Zients, his deputy budget director, to help eliminate the backlog. When the same thing happened with sign-ups for an updated version of the GI Bill, one designed to help the 9/11 generation of veterans get a college education, Obama again turned to Zients for help (10/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Turns To Fix-It Aide For Health Site
The move—the first shakeup of top personnel since the troubled rollout Oct. 1 of the federal government's website—comes a day after President Barack Obama acknowledged the site's poor functioning and said "nobody's madder than me" about it. Mr. Zients, who previously served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, will face a steep challenge in fixing the federally run marketplace, which is designed to offer health-insurance choices to those who can't get coverage from their employer or a government program in 36 states that have declined to run their own exchanges. The government has addressed some problems, including a technical flaw that had blocked most people from viewing their options, but others have emerged (Nelson and Radnofsky, 10/22).

USA Today: Health Care Website Problems Jeopardize Obama's Legacy
As his administration scrambles to fix the online enrollment process under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama is facing a challenge that threatens to undercut the most significant legislative victory of his presidency. The difficulty of the situation, and the pressing need to find a solution, was underscored on Tuesday when the White House announced that Obama has tapped Jeffrey Zients, a former deputy White House budget director who has helped the president fix other troubled government programs, to lead the embattled Department of Health and Human Services' effort to repair the online exchange (Madhani, 10/22).

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