Week ahead: HHS promises ObamaCare site improvements

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But it remains to be seen whether the ObamaCare exchanges will work as promised.

HHS is not saying how many people have actually signed up for healthcare coverage, and will be under pressure this week to prove the system is operating as intended.

Another rocky week on the technical end could be deflating for ObamaCare’s supporters, who are in the midst of a massive campaign to promote enrollment.

On Capitol Hill, healthcare issues are sure to play a role as Congress tries to break the shutdown stalemate.

House Republicans have sought to pass piecemeal government funding bills addressing specific priorities. Healthcare has been an issue in this debate, with the GOP approving a bill last week to fund the National Institutes of Health.

Democrats object to the “piecemeal” funding approach, arguing that the government involves too many critical functions to pick and choose which ones should remain active.

There’s also talk of ending the shutdown with a “grand bargain” that could bring major changes to entitlement programs.

A deal could include changes to Medicare, such as further means testing; cuts to Social Security benefits; the repeal of ObamaCare's medical device tax, and perhaps the repeal of the law's Independent Payment Advisory Board.

The challenge for GOP leaders is ensuring that the package contains enough concessions from Democrats to satsify the party's conservative wing — particularly those who went into the shutdown demanding full defunding of ObamaCare — but not so much that it alienates Senate Democrats.

The shutdown means that most previously scheduled healthcare hearings have been postponed.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the Internal Revenue Service's role in implementing ObamaCare. On the same day, the House Small Business subcommittee on Health and Technology will convene to look at ObamaCare's definition of full-time employment.