KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Admits Healthcare.gov Problems, But Says Health Law Is Bigger Than The Website

In a Rose Garden speech, President Barack Obama said there was "no excuse" for the bungled rollout of the online health insurance marketplaces and promised that the difficulties would be ironed out.

The New York Times: Obama Admits Web Site Flaws On Health Law
President Obama offered an impassioned defense of the Affordable Care Act on Monday, acknowledging the technical failures of the HealthCare.gov Web site, but providing little new information about the problems with the online portal or the efforts by government contractors to fix it (Shear and Pear, 10/21).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Promises To Iron Out Glitches On Healthcare Website
With the shutdown and debt limit crisis past, Washington's attention has turned to persistent problems with the website, which processes enrollments for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But the site — healthcare.gov — has been plagued since it opened Oct. 1 by glitches that threaten to overshadow Obama's signature domestic accomplishment. The president relaunched his campaign to sell the law as Republicans announced plans for hearings on the balky website. A Gallup poll last week found that 7 out of 10 uninsured Americans were "not too familiar" or "not familiar at all" with the online marketplaces (Parsons, Levey and Terhune, 10/21).

McClatchy: Obama Says 'No Excuse' For Website Foul-Ups, Vows To Fix Them
The president’s Rose Garden appearance seemed at times like a campaign rally. More than 100 supporters were seated in the audience, applauding regularly as he spent the bulk of his 25-minute speech touting some of the benefits of the law: free preventive care, cheaper medicine for seniors and insurance for those who have pre-existing medical conditions. "Let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website," he said. "It’s much more." Republicans criticized the White House event. "If the president is frustrated by the mounting failures of his health care law, it wasn’t apparent today," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Americans are looking for accountability, but what the president offered today was little more than self-congratulation” (Kumar and Pugh, 10/21).

The Fiscal Times: Obama Turns to High Pressure Sales to Save Obamacare
Obama told health care advocates gathered in the White House Rose Garden that government officials and Internet technology experts in the country were working overtime to try to fix the problems. But he gave no clear time line for ending the humiliating program crisis that has garnered about a half-million applications since the Oct. 1 launch, but only a minimal number of actual enrollments. While the site is being fixed Americans can apply by phone or in person, Obama said (Pianin, 10/21).

Politico: The Obamacare Bunker Mentality
President Barack Obama likes to say his team is the most transparent administration in history — but on the Obamacare website debacle, it’s been more like they’ve been holed up in the bunker. That’s why there’s growing pressure for the administration to come out from underneath the covers, and start releasing more details on what, exactly, is wrong with the Healthcare.gov site and how soon it might be fixed (Nather, 10/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Admits Health Website Flaws
Mr. Obama promised that the website crucial to the success of the health law is "going to get fixed." His comments came as Republican lawmakers began trying to assign blame to the Obama administration. In a letter released Monday, a House committee chairman said the top contractor developing the website cited a Department of Health and Human Services agency as making 11th-hour decisions that led to some of its biggest problems (Radnofsky, Schatz and Weaver, 10/21).

Bloomberg: Obama Says Health Care Law More Important Than Website
President Barack Obama said flaws in the government’s online insurance exchanges don’t indicate a broader failure of the program, as his spokesman suggested the administration is considering adjusting deadlines under the law. Obama said the website that is central to getting as many as 7 million uninsured Americans covered under the 2010 health-care law hasn’t met expectations (Talev and Wayne, 10/21).

The Washington Post: White House Won’t Say Whether Web Site Glitches Will Delay Mandate
White House press secretary Jay Carney was bombarded with questions Monday about whether the glitches will lead the Obama administration to withdraw penalties for people who don't comply with the requirement that they carry insurance. "Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by March 31," Carney said. "People who do not have access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid, for example, or due to other factors will not be penalized." Reporters pressed Carney on whether having trouble with the Affordable Care Act Web site also qualified as another exemption (Blake, 10/21).

The Associated Press: Obama Says 'No Excuse For Health Care Signup Problems'
President Barack Obama on Monday offered "no excuses" — and little explanation — for the computer bugs still frustrating Americans who are trying to enroll online for insurance plans at the center of his health care law. But software developers tasked with building the site said they saw signs a year ago that the debut could fail (Gillum, 10/22).

Los Angeles Times: Obama: Fighting For A Better Perception Of Healthcare Law
President Obama held a Rose Garden event Monday morning with two goals: to convey a sense of urgency about fixing the problems that have confounded those trying to sign up for insurance using the program’s online insurance site, and to split the divergent group of Americans who oppose Obamacare right now. Two polls released Monday showed how, at this point, opponents of the healthcare law have benefited from opposites attracting (Deckler, 10/21).

The Fiscal Times: Obamacare Poll Shows Devastating Consumer Response
The Gallup Organization has released a devastating new poll about Obamacare, upending the argument from Democrats that the health insurance program is generating a lot of interest. A shocking 71 percent of uninsured Americans claim to be “unfamiliar” with the online exchanges launched this month to substantial fanfare. That figure is roughly the same as September, when 72 percent said they had little understanding of the site and the program. This finding suggests that these Americans are not as thrilled about the options of buying insurance coverage as the administration and its allies would suggest because of the alleged 19 million visits to the online exchanges (Boak, 10/21).

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