KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Healthcare.gov Progress Reports And Post-Mortems

A KHN report looks forward about what is next in the queue in efforts to fix the website -- including possible fixes that would allow insurers and web-based brokers to enroll customers directly into subsidized coverage. Meanwhile, other news outlets analyze the factors that contributed to the balky rollout. Still, Obama administration officials stay positive.   

Kaiser Health News: Administration Tests Fixes That Would Allow Insurers, Brokers To Enroll More Consumers
Insurers and the Obama administration are testing fixes to healthcare.gov designed to allow insurers and web-based brokers to directly enroll consumers who qualify for subsidies under the health law. Allowing insurers and online brokers to directly enroll customers in subsidized coverage could be key to signing up the millions of people the government had projected would gain coverage this year. …. But so far, some of those same technical difficulties have prevented most insurers and brokers from being able to do that. Late Friday afternoon, the administration said it had made progress in tweaking the website’s design, and was launching a pilot test of the fixes with insurers in Texas, Ohio and Florida (Appleby, 11/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Spanish-Language Health Site Delayed
It isn't just the English-language federal website that is weighing on the success of the health-care law. Consumers still can't enroll for insurance on CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the U.S. government's Spanish-language health website. The site was supposed to be fully operational by mid-October, but a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokeswoman said it won't be ready until the end of this month (Schatz, 11/24).

The New York Times: Tension And Flaws Before Health Website Crash
Interviews with current and former Obama administration officials and specialists involved in the project, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of government and contractor documents, offer new details into how tensions between the government and its contractors, questionable decisions and weak leadership within the Medicare agency turned the rollout of the president’s signature program into a major humiliation. The online exchange was crippled, people involved with building it said in recent interviews, because of a huge gap between the administration’s grand hopes and the practicalities of building a website that could function on opening day. Vital components were never secured, including sufficient access to a data center to prevent the website from crashing. A backup system that could go live if it did crash was not created, a weakness the administration has never disclosed. And the architecture of the system that interacts with the data center where information is stored is so poorly configured that it must be redesigned, a process that experts said typically takes months (Lipton, Austen and LaFranier, 11/22).

The Washington Post: HealthCare.gov Contractor Had High Confidence But Low Success
At 9 a.m. on Aug. 22, a team of federal health officials sat down in a Baltimore conference room with at least a dozen employees of CGI Federal, the company with the main contract to build the online federal health insurance marketplace. For six weeks, the federal officials overseeing the project had become increasingly worried that CGI was missing deadlines, understaffing the work and overstating its progress. ... A final "pre-flight checklist" before the Web site’s Oct. 1 opening, compiled a week before by CMS, shows that 41 of 91 separate functions that CGI was responsible for finishing by the launch were still not working (Goldstein and Eilperin, 11/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Officials Upbeat About Health Site Fixes
There won't be a magic moment, but the Obama administration's much-maligned health insurance website should be able to weather an expected year-end crush of customers, officials asserted Friday. A combination of software fixes, design changes, added hardware and newly announced wiggle room should provide the right combination to finally deliver a workable website, White House troubleshooter Jeffrey Zients said in an upbeat assessment. Zients is a management consultant parachuted in by the White House to extricate President Barack Obama from a technology debacle that has sent his poll ratings into a nose dive (11/22).

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