KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Administration Announces Website Will Be Fixed By November

Even as U.S. officials and the contractors they hired delve into the online marketplace's problems, issues arise in paper and phone applications too. Meanwhile, the familiar photo on the website is gone.

The Washington Post: HealthCare.gov Fixes Won't Be Done Until End Of November, Adviser Says
The Obama administration announced Friday that it was putting a private firm in charge of fixing its faulty health insurance Web site and set the end of November as a target date for working out all the bugs, the first indication of how long repairs may take. One day after contractors on the project publicly suggested that the federal government inadequately tested the site before its Oct. 1 launch, administration officials said that one of those contractors — Columbia-based Quality Software Services Inc., or QSSI — would take over management of HealthCare.gov (Somashekhar and Sun, 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 (Galewitz, 10/25).

CQ HealthBeat: Zients: Website Will Work Smoothly By End Of November – Under New Management
Federal officials on Friday handed over the task of overseeing changes to the federal insurance exchange website to a contractor that was part of the team that developed healthcare.gov. The administration expects the site to work well by the end of November. Quality Software Services, Inc., is taking over for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as manager of the project (Adams and Reichard, 10/25).

McClatchy: Obama Administration Says It Will Take Another Month To Fix Health Care Website
A management expert pulled in to help the White House fix the website said a review has identified the problems but that it's going to take several weeks to address them. "It will take a lot of work and there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed, but let me be clear: Healthcare.gov is fixable," said Jeff Zients, a management expert who earlier this week was asked to review the troubled program run by the Department of Health and Human Services (Clark,10/25).

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Hires Contractor To Fix Healthcare Website
Jeffrey Zients, the management consultant enlisted to assess the situation, acknowledged that dozens of unresolved problems remained, including software flaws — contradicting administration officials' early claims that unexpected traffic volume was the main cause of the frequent error messages, frozen screens and other problems. Still, Zients said the site would be running smoothly for the "vast majority" of users by the end of next month (Hennessey and Clemons, 10/25).

The Star Tribune: UnitedHealth Unit Chosen To Fix Health Care Website
The government on Friday named a UnitedHealth Group Inc. subsidiary as "general contractor" to oversee the troubled federal website designed to sign up Americans for health insurance under national health care reform. Quality Software Services Inc., known as QSSI, will "oversee the entire operation" of Healthcare.gov, a government spokeswoman said. The Maryland software company, acquired by Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth’s Optum business unit in 2012, designed the website's data services hub, one of the functions that has worked well since the problem-plagued system went online Oct. 1. QSSI now becomes responsible for prioritizing the site's worst problems and getting them fixed (Spencer, 10/26).

The New York Times: Promised Fix For Health Site Could Squeeze Some Users
Such a condensed time frame raises the question of how hundreds of thousands of people whose current policies do not comply with the health law will obtain new coverage in time, and how millions who may qualify for subsidies will enroll. Some experts predicted a groundswell of demands from Congress and elsewhere to delay the deadlines (Pear and LaFraniere, 10/25).

Politico: 'Glitches' Hit Obamacare Paper, Phone Applications Too
With the supposedly state-of-the-art $600 million HealthCare.gov portal malfunctioning, President Barack Obama is urging Americans to go ahead and try to get health coverage by mailing in a paper application, calling the helpline or seeking help from one of the trained "assisters." But the truth is those applications — on paper or by phone — have to get entered into the same lousy website that is causing the problems in the first place. And the people processing the paper and calls don't have any cyber secret passage to duck around that. They too have to deal with all the frustrations of HealthCare.gov — full-time (Winfield Cunningham, 10/26).

Politico: Healthcare.gov Smiling Face Vanishes
The website for the problem-plagued health care exchanges has a new look, and gone is the smiling face of an unidentified woman from the homepage. Since its roll out, the website had featured a smiling young woman, who became known as the "Obamacare girl," and whose identity people tried unsuccessfully to uncover (Kopan, 10/28).

CNN: HealthCare.Gov Homepage Gets Makeover
An image of a young woman who became known as the "Obamacare girl" is no longer on the homepage of the federal government's health care site. In the process of changing the homepage of HealthCare.gov to highlight the different enrollment options now being offered, the image of the woman, who has become a symbol of the online federal exchange, was set aside, said an official with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, or CMS (Bohn, 10/27).

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