OVERNIGHT HEALTH: More work to do at HealthCare.gov

Between 30 and 40 percent of the IT system for the federal health insurance marketplace must still be built, a top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said Tuesday. Henry Chao, the agency’s deputy chief information officer, said that a large portion of the behind-the-scenes work has yet to be finished.

“I think it’s just an approximation, we’re probably sitting somewhere between 60 or 70 percent [completed],” he told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee.

ADVERTISEMENT
Chao’s comments, which came during a hearing on data security of the federal website, were made less than two weeks before the administration's deadline for fixing the ObamaCare website, and are sure to disappoint Democrats who had hoped the enrollment system would be in tip-top shape by then. The disastrous rollout of ObamaCare because of the error-plagued website has been a political boondoggle for Democrats, who have seen President Obama's approval ratings plummet in polls.

Chao explained that he was not referring to the federal website for buying insurance, HealthCare.gov, or to other aspects of the national marketplace that people looking for insurance will interact with, however. Instead, he said, the major projects under construction involve back-end work, like setting up the procedure to pay health insurance companies once plans begin in January.

 The Hill's RegWatch blog has the details.

Meeting set for Wednesday: President Obama will meet Wednesday with state insurance commissioners — a group that has been critical of the administration’s proposal to let insurers offer limited plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s requirements.

When they meet with Obama, members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) will likely express their discontent with the administration over the executive action, which was proposed to quell the bipartisan outcry that the healthcare law doesn’t comply with the president’s promise that people can keep their plans if they like them.

The state insurance regulators would play a big role in implementing the proposal. A handful of states have already said they will not continue to offer the limited plans, while others have said they'll comply with the White House's order. The Hill's Healthwatch blog has more.

Obama calls for 'rebrand': President Obama said Tuesday his administration would "obviously" need to "re-market and rebrand" the Affordable Care Act following the botched rollout of his signature legislative accomplishment.

The president said the technical glitches with Healthcare.gov meant the administration had "lost some time" toward its enrollment goals. He made the remarks in a speech to business executives at a forum hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

Admitting he had "underestimated the complexities" of creating a centralized hub to sell insurance, the president acknowledged there was a concern that too few young and healthy consumers would sign up for ObamaCare plans. Those customers are needed to keep premiums down for older, sicker individuals purchasing insurance plans. Read more at TheHill.com.

Rubio says ... No 'bailouts' for insurance companies through ObamaCare's risk corridors provision. Read about the Florida senator's bill at Healthwatch.

High court weighs in: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the new restrictive abortion law in Texas, according to multiple reports. On Friday, a majority of the justices decided against blocking the law, which has closed at least a dozen abortion clinics in the state. They split five to four, the reports say. 

“Reasonable minds can perhaps disagree about whether the [U.S. 5th Circuit] Court of Appeals should have granted a stay in this case," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion, on which Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito concurred, according to the Texas Tribune. Read more at The Hill's Blog Briefing Room.


Wednesday's schedule

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on a range of public health bills.


State by state

Enrollment skews older in Connecticut health marketplace

Pence seeks fed meeting on Medicaid

Maine hires conservative firm to study Medicaid expansion


Reading list

Docs complain they will be paid less by exchange plans

ObamaCare failure could shave 30 percent from drug sales

J&J unit to pay $2.5 billion in hip implant settlement


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

House votes to extend federal AIDS programs

Dems attack Cassidy over opposition to Medicaid expansion

Obama skips Gettysburg anniversary because of website's woes

Obama was aware of report on healthcare site's problems

Clyburn: 39 Dems approved Upton bill for 'soundbites'


Comments / complaints / suggestions?
 Please let us know:


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

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

—Julian Hattem contributed.