KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP Lawmakers Probe Marketplace Bugs

Republicans on both sides of the Capitol are investigating technical problems with the health law's online health insurance marketplaces -- with one senator going so far as to call for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Others bemoan the lost opportunity to publicize the balky rollout because public attention was focused instead on the government shutdown.

The Hill: GOP Fear: Shutdown Thwarted Exposure Of ObamaCare Flaws
House Republicans, now seeking a way out of the current fiscal impasse, fear that the government shutdown robbed them of a chance to highlight the problems in ObamaCare's rollout. ... To make matters worse, Republicans have taken a public relations hit for their strategy , a fact not lost on the lawmakers who — along with GOP leadership — opposed making government funding contingent on healthcare changes. "I think we have missed a big issue. I don’t think there’s any question that this whole shutdown episode has covered for the bad rollout of ObamaCare," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), an ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "A lot of us warned that" (Becker and Baker, 10/13).

CBS News: Republicans Open Investigation Into Flawed Obamacare Rollout
Since the Affordable Care Act's new online insurance marketplaces launched on Oct. 1, they've been plagued by technical problems, and congressional Republicans intend to find out why. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter Thursday to Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius asking about the alleged architectural problems with the federally-run website Healthcare.gov that serves 36 states. HHS spent almost $394 million over three years in contracts to build the online marketplace (referred to as an exchange). Yet from day one, Issa and Alexander wrote, "healthcare.gov has been plagued by what Administration officials initially referred to as technical glitches” (Condon, 10/11).

Politico: GOP Questions Obamacare Contractors
Republican lawmakers are demanding answers from the White House about the technical flaws that have crippled Obamacare’s online enrollment system in its opening week. Top House watchdog Darrell Issa and others say the troubled reality doesn’t jibe with the rosy predictions administration officials and contractors were making ahead of the Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov, the online portal most of the country will use to enroll new Obamacare coverage programs (Cheney, 10/11).

Kansas Health Institute: Roberts Calls On Sebelius To Resign Cabinet Post
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas today called for the resignation of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas governor who is overseeing what has proven to be a rocky roll-out of the Affordable Care Act's online insurance marketplace (10/11).

In other news, the Senate Finance Committee starts talking about entitlement changes -

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Finance Committee Talks Over Entitlement Changes
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee agree: It’s time to talk about changes to entitlement programs. Based on a hearing held by the committee Thursday, those changes could involve savings of up to half a trillion dollars over the next decade. Seniors could see a slower increase in Social Security checks. They might have to put up with Medigap policies that cover less (Reichard, 10/11).

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