KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Website Problems Cast New Doubts On Obama’s Vision

President Barack Obama has struggled throughout his presidency to convince the American public that the government can be used to address seemingly "intractable" problems and make transformational changes, but the recent difficulties with healthcare.gov could amount to a serious test to this philosophy.

The New York Times: Health Site Woes Undermine Obama's Vow On Government
The breakdown of the federal HealthCare.gov Web site could emerge as a test of Mr. Obama’s philosophy, with potentially serious implications for an agenda that relies heavily on the belief in a can-do bureaucracy. Michael Dimock, the Pew center’s director, said that the longer the problems persist, the more they could bolster what he called the “almost American value that government is inefficient” (Shear, 10/26).

The Washington Post: HealthCare.gov Doesn't Help Obama's Argument For Greater Government
President Obama has faced a persistent challenge in office. The advocate of big, bold actions to address large and seemingly intractable problems, he has struggled to convince the public that government is equipped to carry out such transformational changes. The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has highlighted that challenge, and the administration’s response has no doubt set the president back. He and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were slow to acknowledge the scope of the problems with HealthCare.gov, and overall the administration has hardly lived up to its pledge to be the most transparent in history (Balz, 10/26).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Website Flaws Imperil President’s Activist Agenda
The rocky debut of the insurance exchanges at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health-care law poses risks to his political agenda and the activist role for government that he has championed for his second term.White House officials say they expect a surge in online enrollment to begin in mid-November, meaning the administration may have only about three weeks to fix the flaws before negative public perceptions about the new program begin to harden (Dorning, 10/26).

Meanwhile, news outlets also report on how the technical issues could undermine the enrollment of the sought-after young and healthy people while, at the same time, these hiccups may be a distraction from other health law problems, such as sticker shock.

The New York Times: Health Site's Woes Could Dissuade Vital Enrollee: The Young And Healthy
The economists and policy wonks behind the Affordable Care Act worry that the technical problems bedeviling the federal portal could become much more than an inconvenience. If applicants like Mr. Jackson decide to put off or give up on buying coverage, rising prices and even a destabilized insurance market could result. The enrollment of people like Mr. Jackson, who is 32, is vital for the health care law — and, for that matter, the entire health care system — to work (Lowrey, 10/27).

Politico: Obamacare Headaches: More Than The Website
The range of issues and potential issues runs the gamut, from the truly glitchy — the small and likely solvable — to much more serious threats to the viability of the health exchanges at the heart of Obamacare (Norman and Allen, 10/28).

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