KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Financial Analysts Say In Addition To Political Turmoil, Website Problems Could Send Stocks Into Turmoil

The website is vital to the health law's success, they argue.

Politico: Analysts: Nov. 30 Is Make-Or-Break Date For Obamacare
Wall Street health care analysts warned Thursday that a failure to successfully launch HealthCare.gov by Nov. 30 could send Democrats fleeing from Obamacare and industry stocks into turmoil. "If the website is not functioning on Nov. 30, then I think you see a stampede of Democratic legislators in risky elections next year," said Carl McDonald, a senior analyst at Citi Investment Research, at a conference organized by the Center for Studying Health System Change (Cheney, 11/21).

Medpage Today: Analysts: Website Looms Large In ACA’s Success
The Obama administration's ability to fix the troubled HealthCare.gov website in the next couple of weeks will figure prominently in the long-term success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health reform in general, financial analysts said. … In the world of politics, continuing to have a dysfunctional federally run web portal to sign up for health insurance could spell political doom for ACA supporters -- and hence the law itself -- in congressional mid-term elections next year, experts said Thursday at an event hosted by the Center for Studying Health System Change (Pittman, 11/21).

The Associated Press: Experts: Healthcare.gov Fix Needs More Time, Money
[Bill Curtis, senior vice president and chief scientist at CAST, a French software analysis company] says programmers and systems analysts start fixing troubled websites by addressing the glitches they can see. But based on his analysis of the site, he believes the ongoing repairs are likely to reveal even deeper problems, making it tough to predict when all the site's issues will be resolved. "Will it eventually work? Yes, because they have to make it work," he says. But it'll be very expensive" (Fowler, 11/21).

The Washington Post: The Federal Health-Care Exchange's Abysmal Success Rate
Technical issues have plagued the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's online health insurance exchanges — digital marketplaces where individuals can browse and apply for health insurance coverage. States decided whether they would create their own exchange or, if they preferred, have the federal government do it for them (or create one through a partnership with the federal government). Typically, states that embraced the health-care law, such as California, chose to create exchanges, while states that were resistant to it, such as Florida, defaulted to the federal exchange. However, the states that defaulted to a federal exchange are facing a host of technical issues and are faring, on average, much worse than states with their own exchanges (Elliott, 11/21).

Meanwhile, new emails describe some of failures in testing shortly before the website went live.

Politico: Emails Show Little Testing On Healthcare.gov
The minimal testing done four days before the launch of HealthCare.gov failed to handle 500 people applying through the website at one time, according to internal e-mails between the top Obama administration technicians working on the site (Haberkorn, 11/22).

Reuters: Days Before Launch, Obamacare Website Failed To Handle Even 500 Users
In the last days before the botched October 1 launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare website, the team in charge was seeing alarming results from performance tests, according to internal emails released by Republican lawmakers investigating the rollout. HealthCare.gov was unable to consistently handle 500 users at once in the testing, and tests failed with 2,000 users over a three-day period, according to a series of emails between members of the information technology team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS (Rampton, 11/21).

And in Oregon, officials worry that they may not be able to hold the contractor accountable.

The Oregonian: Oregon’s Nonworking Health Exchange Could Have Problems Holding Contractor Fully Accountable
While officials for the state and Oregon's health exchange have vowed to hold its main contractor accountable for missed deadlines and substandard work on the state's nonworking website, those efforts may be hampered by a poorly written contract, the exchange director acknowledged Thursday. Though the Cover Oregon executive director Rocky King has said he wasn't worried enough about the website to recommend a backup plan until August, emails and documents obtained through a records request by The Oregonian shows that by early May alarmed officials were sounding alarms (Budnick 11/21).

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