KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Administration Announces Details Of Marketplace Website Fix

Jeffrey Zients, who was named by President Barack Obama to watch over the repairs to healthcare.gov, told reporters Friday that it should be running well by the end of November.

NBC News: Healthcare.gov Will Work Smoothly By End-November, Government Pledges
The troubled federal health insurance website will be fixed by the end of November, giving uninsured Americans two weeks to get signed up in time to have health insurance by the earliest possible date, officials pledged Friday. One of the main government contractors, QSSI, has been assigned to oversee the fix, says Jeff Zients, the newly appointed chief White House economic adviser who's been tasked to fix the logjammed website (Fox, 10/25).

Politico: Jeff Zients: HealthCare.gov Working By End Of November
As more Senate Democrats on Friday called for an extension of the health care law’s open enrollment period, administration officials said the new timing for fixing the website provides enough leeway for people to sign up for coverage in order to have it at the start of the year. "People will be able to apply by Dec. 15 to get coverage by Jan. 1," CMS Communications Director Julie Bataille said. And Bataille pointed out that at least some people are already able to enroll on the balky system, noting that more than 700,000 applications have been received for the federal and state-run exchanges (Millman, 10/25).

Kaiser Health News: Zients Vows Healthcare.gov Will Work Smoothly By End Of November
The troubled federal health insurance exchange will be fixed by the end of November -- two weeks before the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline for coverage to take effect in January, Obama administration officials said Friday. ... Zients told reporters Friday that dozens of things need to be fixed to enable consumers to shop and enroll on the website that is the door to health coverage in 36 states for people who don’t get insurance through their jobs. Fourteen other states have their own online exchanges, most of which are functional (Galewitz, 10/25).

The Hill: HHS Sets Deadline Of Nov. 30 For Fixing ObamaCare Enrollment Site
The Nov. 30 deadline is the first specific timetable on repairs from the Obama administration, which is under serious pressure to fix the site's problems before they create a drag on enrollment. Republicans have pounced on the errors as proof that the Affordable Care Act is unworkable. Democrats, while critical of the rollout, have been hesitant to directly blame the administration (Viebeck, 10/25).

The Associated Press: Health Care Site Needs Dozens Of Fixes
Nearly a month into a dysfunctional health care rollout, Obama administration officials said Friday they have identified dozens of website problems that need fixing and tapped a private company to take the lead. Jeffrey Zients, a management consultant brought in by the White House to assess the extent of problems with the HealthCare.gov site, told reporters his review found issues across the entire system, which is made up of layers of components interacting in real time with consumers, government agencies and insurance company computers. It will take a lot of work, but "HealthCare.gov is fixable," said Zients. The vast majority of the issues will be resolved by the end of November, he asserted, and there will be many fewer errors. He stopped short of saying the problems will go away completely (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/25).

The New York Times: 'General Contractor' Named to Fix Health Web Site
Jeffrey D. Zients, President Obama's troubleshooter for the marketplace, said that investigators had found bugs in the software that powers the site. That finding differs from the original explanation about the problems that have crippled the Web site. Administration officials initially said that the difficulties occurred because the number of people trying to use the site far exceeded their expectations, and they played down other factors (Pear, 10/25).

Business Insider: White House: The Obamacare Website Will 'Work Smoothly' By The End Of November
Zients also announced that the Department of Human and Health Services is bringing in a general contractor, Quality Software Systems Inc., to manage the fixes. "There is a lot of work to do," Zients said. He promised "meaningful improvements on the site's performance each and every week" (Logiurato, 10/25).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Website to Be Fixed by December, Zients Says
The project's management has been reorganized, with UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH)'s Quality Software Services unit taking over as lead contractor. Since opening for business this month, the site has been plagued by technical problems, including delays, error messages and hang-ups that have prevented many customers from completing their enrollment. Ten Democratic senators led by Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called on the Obama administration to extend the health law’s open-enrollment period beyond March 31 (Wayne, 10/25).

The Washington Post: Here’s The Obama Administration's Plan To Fix HealthCare.gov
QSSI will lead efforts to fix the Web site. The technology firm will become a general contractor for the effort to fix HealthCare.gov, overseeing a project that involves lots of other contract companies. "They are overseeing the entire operation," Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille said. "If one issue needs to be addressed, it gets prioritized right away. It makes sense, as they are familiar with the complexity of the system and have done a good job already supporting the federal data hub which is performing as it should have. They have the expertise to help us address these problems right now." That federal data hub that Bataille mentioned is a system that essentially ferries data between different agencies and HealthCare.gov (Kliff, 10/25).

The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth Unit Tapped to Repair Health-Law Website
The move followed a congressional hearing Thursday at which contractors for the site said each of their individual parts functioned but no one in the government made sure all of them worked together properly. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services acted as its own systems integrator for the site—an unusual arrangement for such a complex project (Corbett Dooren, 10/25). 

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