OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Lackluster sign-up reports for ObamaCare

A new report is pointing to lackluster ObamaCare enrollment numbers just as the administration prepares to release its own official data. Sources told The Wall Street Journal Monday that the federally facilitated marketplaces served by HealthCare.gov have managed to sign up between 40,000 and 50,000 people since Oct. 1, just one-tenth of the target the administration once hoped to meet in the first month.

Federal health officials did not confirm the number, but noted the many problems facing the enrollment site and expectations that most consumers will purchase healthcare coverage closer to deadlines. "We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time," said Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters in a statement, citing Massachusetts's experience with its healthcare reform law. "As we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated."

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The report came after consulting firm Avalere Health reported that about 50,000 people have signed up for Medicaid and private plans through 12 state-run exchanges. The number represents just 3 percent of the total number expected to buy ObamaCare coverage in those states. The findings shed light on how many enrollees the administration could announce when it releases its own data this week. Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports here and here.

BREAKING: Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), a top target of Republicans in 2014, will ask two oversight agencies for a full-blown investigation into the problems surrounding the ObamaCare launch. Hagan is asking her Senate colleagues to co-sign a letter asking two agencies to conduct “a complete, thorough investigation to determine the causes of the design and implementation failures of HealthCare.Gov.”

“These problems are simply unacceptable, and Americans deserve answers and swift solutions,” Hagan writes in a letter obtained by The Hill. “Taxpayers are owed a full and transparent accounting of how the vendors contracted to build the site failed to launch it successfully.” Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Oversight fight I: The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee on Monday demanded that Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) withdraw a “misguided” subpoena of an official who is working to fix the federal ObamaCare site. In a blistering letter, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) accused Issa of hurling “unfounded accusations” against Todd Park, the administration’s chief technology officer (CTO). Issa subpoenaed Park last week, ordering him to testify Wednesday before the Oversight Committee. The Oversight chairman said he offered a handful of opportunities for the CTO to speak in front of his committee but was continuously rebuffed by the White House, which said Park was too busy to appear. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Oversight fight II: Three technology experts with ties to the White House are blasting House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for forcing Obama's top technology expert to testify before Congress. The group created a website, called "Let Todd Work," arguing that Issa is wasting the time of U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and distracting him from trying to fix HealthCare.gov. The site was created by Clay Johnson and Adam Becker, former Presidential Innovation fellows, and Michael Aleo, a former White House art director. Visitors can sign an online petition to "stand with Todd" and call for Issa to withdraw the subpoena. Brendan Sasso at The Hill reports.

None: The state of Oregon has yet to enroll a single person into its state-run healthcare exchange, according to reports by The Associated Press and NPR released on Monday. Oregon is one of 17 states that opted to run its own healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act, and the state has often been spotlighted by liberals as having implemented one of the country’s more ambitious healthcare overhauls. But the state’s exchange has suffered technical issues similar to those affecting the federal system, and continues to sputter more than a month after its launch. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

 

State by State:

Indiana officials don’t trust the feds to get HealthCare.gov up and working, The National Journal reports.

A pilot program in Massachusetts will seek to treat the sickest, most expensive patients, according to WBUR in Boston.

Virginia hospitals could lose millions if the state doesn’t opt in to the federal Medicaid expansion, reports The Daily Progress.

 

Reading List:

ObamaCare is running out of bullets, Megan McArdle writes at Bloomberg.

ObamaCare needs Republican cooperation, Harold Pollack writes at The Nation.

With elections looming, Democrats are rattled by ObamaCare, Tom Cohen writes at CNN.

Republicans are sabotaging the healthcare law, writes Larry Summers at The Washington Post.

 

What you may have missed on HealthWatch:

The White House is reviewing anti-terror food rules.

Feds deny they’re lifting China chicken ban.

Rep. McCarthy is suing firms after her cancer diagnosis.

 

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Jonathan Easley/ jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley

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