November 20, 2013
Administration Hedges On Nov. 30 Goal As More ACA Problems Come To Light
On Tuesday, the White House acknowledged that President Obama was aware of a March report warning about problems likely to hamper HealthCare.gov as it went live. Also on Tuesday, Administration officials and outside cybersecurity experts testified that the site is far from complete and vulnerable to hackers. These developments shifted some of the media focus away from the ongoing controversy over Americans who are losing their health insurance as a result of the ACA, and back to the technical problems that initially drove the ACA rollout story starting in the middle of last month.
Many reports last night and this morning draw attention to the Administration’s claims – cast as seemingly contradictory – about the likely state of progress at the end of this month, when the President has said HealthCare.gov “will be functioning for the majority of people who are using it.” CMS’s Henry Chao, described by the New York Times as “the chief digital architect for the federal health insurance marketplace,” declined to second that prediction at a House hearing on Tuesday, and the AP reports that, also on Tuesday, HHS Secretary Sebelius “appear[ed] to soften [Obama’s] promise that the site will be working by then for the vast majority of users.”
The Washington Post reports that on Tuesday at the Wall Street Journal event, Obama “sought to redirect some of the political blame for the botched rollout of the federal health insurance exchange to Republicans, characterizing GOP lawmakers as rooting for the law’s failure.” Obama is quoted as saying, “One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure.” The Wall Street Journal reports that when asked at a House hearing if he agrees with President Obama when he said on Tuesday that, “by the end of this month,” HealthCare.gov “will be functioning for the majority of people who are using it,” CMS Deputy CIO HenryChao said, “There’s still a lot of moving parts. It wouldn’t be prudent to give 100% guarantees about where we are going to be, but I think we are on the right track.”