By Kyle Cheney
November’s shaping up to be a major test of Obamacare functionality.
That’s when new features of the health law’s enrollment system — some of which have been put off repeatedly because of insufficient testing — are slated to go online. Among them: online enrollment in the marketplace for small businesses, a Spanish-language enrollment website and the transfer of Medicaid applications from the feds to the states.
Administration officials are insisting that the already-stressed system will run smoothly for most potential enrollees by the end of next month, but they’re shedding little light on what’s left on the so-called punch list that the administration’s tech experts are plowing through.
(PHOTOS: 10 Sebelius quotes about Obamacare website)
Marilyn Tavenner, who runs the federal agency that oversees the enrollment process, told lawmakers Tuesday that some of HealthCare.gov’s functions were postponed because of a “compressed time frame” for testing.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/obamacare-cms-enrollment-november-99060.html#ixzz2jCNHdfvm
By Gil Aegerter
Staff Writer, NBC News
Executives of companies that built key parts of the federal government’s troubled health-insurance website will have some explaining to do when they appear before a congressional committee Thursday, just weeks after the companies assured the lawmakers that the healthcare.gov website was on course for a smooth launch.
Since executives from the companies last appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Sept. 10, the website that is a critical to implementing President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act has gotten off to a rocky start, with technical glitches preventing many consumers from even creating accounts, much less signing up for health insurance.
The problems with the online exchange — intended to allow Americans to comparison shop for coverage and then sign up for their preferred policy — have fired up critics of the “Obamacare” law, giving them new hope that they can delay it or even repeal it. The early snafu also has prompted a full-court press by the administration to get it up and running, thereby containing the political damage and keeping implementation of the law on schedule.
It’s against this tumultuous backdrop that officials of two of the main contractors hired to build the website – CGI Federal, the lead firm on healthcare.gov with $300 million in contracts, and software maker QSSI – will testify on Thursday.
Open enrollment has begun under the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — and the kickoff has generated tremendous interest from Americans. But there’s still a lot of confusion about how the enrollment process actually works.
This week, millions of people flocked to Heathcare.gov, the program’s main website, to find out more about the options. That website then directs people to online insurance marketplaces where they can sign up for health insurance based on the state they live in.
The large number of people trying to access the website led to outages and delays caused by the unexpectedly high traffic volume.
The Obama administration hopes 7 million people will sign up for insurance during the 2014-2015 year, and more than 1 million Americans visited Healthcare.gov before 7 a.m. ET on the first day of enrollment alone.
Melissa Dahl, NBC News
Too many Americans are still clueless about the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that insurance exchanges open on Tuesday, Oct. 1. To help demystify the ACA, NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman appears on Thursday’s broadcast of “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”
If you’re still confused — and we get that! — Snyderman will continue to answer your questions about next week’s Obamacare rollout. Ask your questions on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ with the hashtag #AskDrNancy, and Snyderman will answer some of the most important or common queries. And be sure to bookmark nbcnews.com/healthcare for more stories and explainers.
Here are some of your most pressing concerns:
BY SY MUKHERJEE
Politico reported Tuesday evening that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) administration is in negotiations with the Obama White House to accept about $100 million in federal money to implement an Obamacare Medicaid program to help elderly and disabled Americans.
Perry has been a heated opponent of the health law. He refused to accept $100 billion in federal funding to expand Texas’ Medicaid program under Obamacare, which could have helped 1.5 million poor Texans afford basic health benefits. As recently as April, Perry essentially called the expansion a joke. “Seems to me April Fool’s Day is the perfect day to discuss something as foolish as Medicaid expansion, and to remind everyone that Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into the fool’s errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system,” said Perry.
Now, Perry is seeking federal dollars for Texas’ Medicaid program anyway.
THERE WAS THIS FUROR OVER MEDICARE.