OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Agitated Dems vent on ObamaCare

Senate Democrats vented their frustrations over the faulty rollout of the Affordable Care Act in a meeting Thursday with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior officials. Democratic senators facing reelection in 2014 were some of the most vocal critics. McDonough tried to assure angry senators he is personally taking charge of the disparate federal offices in charge of implementing the massive law, which has been plagued by technical errors. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. Elise Viebeck has a related story.

The big guns: The "tech surge" to repair ObamaCare's broken enrollment website involves employees from Oracle and Google with ties to the administration. The two individuals listed were Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, and Greg Gershman, a software developer. The two are working with HealthCare.gov contractors QSSI and CGI Federal, respectively, to help boost the site's performance. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also said workers from Oracle and Red Hat were on hand to provide expertise. The Hill’s Elise Viebeck reports.Jonathan Easley has a related story.

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Dead people: The agency responsible for implementing ObamaCare erroneously paid out millions of dollars on behalf of dead people in 2011, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) paid $23 million to providers, suppliers, Medicare Advantage organizations and prescription drug plan sponsors on behalf of beneficiaries who died between 2009 and 2011, the office found. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

More subpoenas drop: House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Thursday subpoenaed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over ObamaCare's rocky rollout. Issa (R-Calif.) accused Sebelius's agency of withholding documents that would shed light on why HealthCare.gov launched with massive technical problems on Oct. 1. The subpoena compels the HHS to produce certain documents by Nov. 13. In a statement, Issa called the department's failure to comply with previous information requests "completely unacceptable." The Hill’s Elise Viebeck reports. 

More letters: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is sending more letters to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and private contractors involved in the construction of HealthCare.gov. Friday's letters made further document requests related to the site's security and blasted the department for failing to conduct enough end-to-end testing on the system ahead of Oct. 1. "As each day goes by, more concerns are being raised with HealthCare.gov’s security, as well as the administration’s competency to fix the lingering problems," Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement. 

States weigh in on abortion suit: Sixteen states are asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of an Arizona abortion restriction based on the disputed premise of fetal pain. The states filed briefs with the court this week asking it to reverse an appellate panel's decision against the Arizona law, which bans most abortions after 20 weeks.  The news was circulated by the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys are co-counsel in the case. 

Today in malaria: U.S. cases of the mosquito-borne disease reached a 40-year high in 2011, according to data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number represents a 14 percent uptick since 2010, and cases showed seasonal peaks in January and August, the agency said. The vast majority of cases (69 percent) were acquired in Africa. "The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. 

50 years ago today: On Oct. 31, 1963, former President Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act, which hastened the trend toward deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) marked the anniversary on Thursday with a statement touting their mental health bill, which would create federal standards and oversight for community mental health providers. "While we have come a long way, there is still much work to be done to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and ensure that people living with mental illness have access to quality treatment," Stabenow and Blunt said.

 

State by State

Tennessee's Haslam says Medicaid deal unlikely before new year
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Ohio's Kasich defends alternative Medicaid vote
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NYC moves closer to tobacco-buying age of 21
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Jonathan Easley/ jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley

Elise Viebeck/ eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck