OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: GAO report blasts HealthCare.gov rollout

A series of management failures at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services led to the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov and $840 million in costs, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

“CMS undertook the development of HealthCare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices,” wrote William Woods, GAO director of acquisition and sourcing management, in testimony prepared for a Thursday hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


Woods said officials failed to prepare “despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight.”

The GAO report prepared for the committee comes after a long probe into last year’s rollout of ObamaCare’s online enrollment system.

HealthCare.gov was plagued by numerous technical problems leading to low initial enrollment figures and left the administration scrambling to repair the site and reach their signup targets. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1pqVpmT.


GOP bill would allow pre-ACA insurance plans: The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would let people on group health insurance plans keep policies that don’t conform to ObamaCare’s standards.

The legislation, approved almost down a party-line 27-20 vote, is meant to respond to those who said their plans were cancelled because of the new healthcare law, which required policies to meet minimum coverage standards.

There was an outcry last year when many people said they lost their insurance plans despite President Obama’s pledge that under the healthcare law, people would be able to keep their plans if they liked them.

The Obama administration in response to last year’s controversy changed rules so that old plans cancelled under the new standards could still be kept for as long as Jan. 1, 2016.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), is challenging Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.) in a race that could decide the Senate’s majority. The congressman has used ObamaCare as a major weapon to attack Landrieu, who voted for the law.

During a heated hour-long debate Democrats on the committee jumped on the bill as another push by Republicans to kill the Affordable Care Act. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1pqVTt9.


Bill would create soda tax: From The Hill’s Ben Goad: “Legislation introduced Wednesday in the House would establish a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks, reprising a national debate over the role of government in shaping Americans’ diets.

“The bill authored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to establish an excise tax on the beverage. The revenue would be directed toward prevention, treatment and related public health research.

“’People want to be healthy and they want their kids to be healthy,’ DeLauro said. ‘But we are in the midst of dual epidemics, with obesity and diabetes afflicting our nation and the related, astronomical healthcare costs.’

“According to the legislation, the nation’s overweight and obesity problem is directly responsible for $190 billion — or as much as 10 percent — of the nation’s healthcare costs, with more than 20 percent of the costs paid publicly through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

“The bill would impose a 1 percent tax per every 4.2 grams of caloric sweetener added to beverages, and would apply to manufacturers, producers and importers of the products.” Read more here: http://bit.ly/UBVHfG.


Thursday schedule:

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee is holding a hearing to discuss a new GAO report detailing what went wrong during HealthCare.gov’s rollout.

The House Small Business Health and Technology subcommittee is holding a hearing on telemedicine and how it can be used to increase patient access to rural physicians.


State by state:

Illinois Medicaid restricts use of hepatitis drug: http://bit.ly/1qot9jG

NY to appeal federal Medicaid claim for $1.25B: http://washex.am/1le6Mur

Vitter introduces legislation to stop illegal immigrants from receiving Obamacare, tuition tax credits:http://bit.ly/1uHNG9z

Pence meets with HHS secretary on Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0: http://bit.ly/1qLIHCV


Lobbying registration:

CSA Strategies LLC/ Allegheny Health Network

Gray & Oscar, LLC/ Eastern Regional Medical Center


Reading list:

Patrick signs law replacing buffer zone provision: http://bit.ly/1s4YTwq

White House says Ebola outbreak won't alter U.S.-Africa summit: http://reut.rs/1kmXS30

Senators plan bills to deal with college sexual assault: http://press.sn/1lY5DqW


What you might have missed at The Hill:

Should kids' health program be extended?: http://bit.ly/1nUBIW9

This post was updated at 6:26 p.m.