OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Hill staffers warned not to rely on info from ObamaCare exchange

Capitol Hill staffers who signed up for ObamaCare through the District’s exchange are being told to confirm their enrollments in person to ensure they don’t wind up uninsured next year.

An email from the Senate Disbursing Office, obtained by The Hill, warns Capitol Hill staffers they shouldn’t trust the information provided to them by the DC Health Link (DCHL) site.

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“It is essential that you confirm your coverage in DCHL through the Disbursing Office,” the email reads.

“Please do not assume you are covered unless you have seen the confirmation letter from the Disbursing Office.”

The warning underscores a broader challenge facing the online exchanges.

While the administration claims to have met its goal of having HealthCare.gov running smoother for most consumers folowing a troubled rollout, back-end problems with the system persist.

That has lawmakers worried that individuals who believe they’ve purchased a plan under ObamaCare will discover they never actually enrolled because of a system error. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Criminal obstruction: The top House Republican charged with overseeing the executive branch is accusing federal health officials of criminally obstructing his investigation into the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov. Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (Calif.) claimed the Department of Health and Human Services was illegally interfering with the ongoing probe after the department purportedly told one private contractor not to comply with congressional requests for information. Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports.

Rising costs: Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday said the information technology costs for the HealthCare.gov website totaled $677 million through the end of October. The HHS has only spent $319 million of that amount so far, Sebelius testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but commitments to contractors and government officials could reach $677 million if the agency makes good on all of its obligations. Sebelius has hinted that the Health agency could seek to withhold some payments to contractors due to the poor performance of the website. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

CBO names a price: A proposed patch sparing Medicare physicians a 24 percent pay cut next year would cost about $8.7 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. The measure, introduced in the House, would provide doctors with a 0.5 percent payment update through March 2014 while allowing Congress several months to overhaul Medicare's flawed physician payment system. To partially fund the three-month fix, the House bill would prolong a series of cuts set to hit hospitals that serve primarily uninsured and low-income patients under Medicaid. Healthwatch has the story.

Probe: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday that her inspector general will investigate the botched launch of the HealthCare.gov website. Sebelius informed lawmakers of the investigation during testimony Wednesday in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. While the front-end of the website is running better for consumers trying to access healthcare plans, the problem-plagued launch put the HHS behind in its enrollment targets, tanked President Obama’s approval numbers and has been a massive political embarrassment for Democrats. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Enrollments: About 260,000 people picked out private health plans under ObamaCare in November, bringing the total number of enrollments to about 365,000, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department announced on Wednesday. While November’s figures are an improvement over the 106,000 who picked out a plan in October, the administration is well behind its original goal of having 800,000 people signed up through the state and federal exchanges in the first two months. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.


State by State:

Why some state-run exchanges worked.

Questions raised over Florida Medicaid reform.


Reading List:


Congress goes to the head of the line on ObamaCare.

History will forget the bungled ObamaCare launch.


What you may have missed at HealthWatch:

GOP lawmaker: Talking to Sebelius like talking to North Korea.

HHS hand-matching applications.


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


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