November 15, 2013

At House Hearing On, Officials Decline To Give Exact Date For Fixes.

Wednesday’s hearing regarding before the House Oversight Committee is attracting significant coverage from many sources, including the front page of a major newspaper and a dedicated segment in a network news broadcast. Coverage highlighted the uncertainty of the Obama Administration regarding when the website will be fully functional, how the errors initially occurred, and the potential for continuing security risks in the website.
On the CBS Evening News, Nancy Cordes reported on Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing into the ongoing problems dogging She noted that at the hearing, “some of the Administration’s top technology officers testified they were caught off guard by”’s “poor performance, even though they knew well in advance that some key components weren’t working – like a feature that allowed users to comparison shop for insurance plans without creating an account.” CMS Deputy CIO Henry Chao said “It failed so miserably that we could not consciously let people use it.”
The Washington Post (11/14, A1, Branigin, Kliff, Somashekhar) reports that at the House Oversight Committee hearing, Republicans “mounted attacks on the security of the Web site, drawing rebukes from Democrats who accused them of trying to scare Americans away from buying health insurance.” The Post adds that White House CTO Todd Park “would not guarantee that the Web site would be completely fixed by the end of November.” The White House initially declined to allow Park to testify yesterday, saying that he was too busy working to repair the flawed website. Reuters (11/14, Cowan, Humer) quotes Park as saying, “The team is working really hard to hit that goal and that’s what I’m able to say right now.”
David Nather, in a piece for Politico (11/14) titled, “Darrell Issa Hearing Shows Obamacare Deadline Slipping,” reports that House Republicans “ragged out just enough information to suggest that the federal Obamacare enrollment website may not be fixed as quickly as the administration said.” According to Nather, “If there was any doubt that the Obama administration’s goal of a smoothly functioning website by the end of November is slipping out of reach, it was erased when” Park “couldn’t give a straight ‘yes or no’ answer when Issa asked whether it will be ready.”
The Wall Street Journal (11/14, Dooren, Subscription Publication) reports that even the panel’s ranking minority member, Rep. Elijah Cummigs (D-MD) said, “We’ve had a lot of bad news at this hearing.”
The New York Times (11/14, Pear, Lipton, Subscription Publication) reports that Chao, described as “the chief digital architect for the federal health insurance marketplace,” testified on Wednesday “that he met periodically with White House aides to discuss the status of the website over the last three years, but he said the meetings focused narrowly on specific technical issues and therefore gave the president no clear warning of the disaster that ensued on Oct. 1.” The Times adds that the officials testifying before the Committee were unable to provide a budget for the total cost of repairs to The website has thus far cost “more than $600 million” but there is no estimate of the exact amount of money that will be necessary to fix all problems.
The Huffington Post (11/14, McAuliff) reported that on Wednesday, Park and Chao “painted a picture of an improving health insurance website” that “now has the ability to handle 20,000 to 25,000 visitors to the site simultaneously, can register 17,000 people an hour, has an average response time of less than 1 second instead of eight seconds, and has a site error rate of less than 1 percent.”
USA Today (11/13, Korte) reports that, according to math offered by Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), even in ideal circumstances, it would take “more than two months” for all uninsured people living in states using to sign up for coverage at the current website speed. Applicants face a December 15 deadline for plans that start in January.
The National Journal (11/14, Ritger, Subscription Publication) reports that Issa declared at the hearing that the high profile problems with justify changes to how the Federal government handles information technology projects. According to Issa, “This is part of a pattern that occurs due to failure to adhere to the private sector’s world-class standards for IT production.”
Former Social Security Commissioner Expected To Criticize HHS In Thursday Hearing. CQ (11/14, Ethridge, Subscription Publication) reports that Former Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue is scheduled to testify on Thursday that the Obama Administration “mismanaged the process” of implementing the Affordable Care Act. According to an advance version of the testimony he will give to the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, Astrue will say that “The simple truth is that HHS mismanaged the process; failure was not inevitable — it was achieved.” CQ predicts that “Republicans are sure to delight in Astrue’s testimony.”
House Calls Two More Administration Officials To Testify. Reuters (11/14, Rampton) reports that Republicans in the House Oversight Committee, including Chairman Darrell Issa, have requested that the current and former White House chief advisers for healthcare policy testify. The Committee asked Jeanne Lambrew, who is described by the White House website as “Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy,” and Nancy-Ann DeParle, who previously held the same position for the Administration.

Source article: Bulletin Healthcare