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December 02 2013

15:00

Taking Stock Of HealthCare.gov

Healthcare.gov. It’s December. We’ll look at what’s working, what’s not, and the path now for health care reform.

Victory declared this weekend by the Obama administration in rescuing HealthCare.gov from its calamitous debut.  Critics compared it to George W. Bush’s derided “Mission Accomplished” claim in Iraq.  The website that barely breathed when the Affordable Care Act was rolled out October 1 is now said to be capable of handling 50,000 users at a time.  Small change in the world of cyber-Monday shopping.  A big deal if it ushers millions of Americans into new health care coverage.  The battle is still on. This hour On Point:  HealthCare.gov and health care reform, two months in.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Noam Levey, national healthcare reporter for the Los Angeles Times. (@NoamLevey)

Dan Schuyler, director at Leavitt Partners, a health-care intelligence business. Former director of technology for the Utah Health Insurance Exchange. (@dschuyler)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), member of Congress representing Tennessee’s seventh district. (@MarshaBlackburn)

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), member of Congress representing Maryland’s eight district. (@ChrisVanHollen)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Inside the Race to Rescue a Health Care Site, and Obama — “The website, which the administration promised would ‘function smoothly’ for most people by Nov. 30, remains a work in progress. It is more stable, with many more people able to use it simultaneously than just two weeks ago. But it still suffers sporadic crashes, and large parts of the vital ‘back end’ that processes enrollment data and transactions with insurers remain unbuilt. The president, who polls showed was now viewed by a majority of Americans as not trustworthy, has conceded that he needs to ‘win back’ his credibility.”

Wall Street Journal: Insurers Seek to Bypass Health Site — “Federal officials said they had largely succeeded in repairing parts of the site that had most snarled users in the two months since its troubled launch, but acknowledged they only had begun to make headway on the biggest underlying problems: the system’s ability to verify users’ identities and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers. One of the leading states operating its own exchange is considering ways to decouple itself from the federal infrastructure it relies on to confirm residents’ eligibility for federal tax credits. That technology has been affected by planned and unplanned outages.”

Los Angeles Times: Major health website bugs fixed, officials say, but more work needed — “Reporting on its attempts to improve the HealthCare.gov portal, officials said that Web pages on the site now loaded in less than one second, down from eight seconds in late October. The system now operates more than 90% of the time, up from 40% during some weeks in October. The average rate of timeouts or other Web page failures has dropped to less than 1%. It was as high as 6% in October.”

November 01 2013

05:56

Week In The News: Obamacare Blowup, NSA Fury And A Year After Sandy

Obamacare hullaballoos. NSA snooping fury still rising. Superstorm Sandy, one year on.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Siobhan Gorman, intelligence correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@Gorman_Siobhan)

Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent for NPR. (@JRovner)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Europeans Shared Spy Data With U.S. — “The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA’s spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans. The phone records collected by the Europeans—in war zones and other areas outside their borders—were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians, U.S. officials said.”

NPR: Congressmen Berate Sebelius For Cancellations, Website Woes — “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a date with lawmakers frustrated by the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. What she got at the House Energy and Commerce Committee was four hours of venting from Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sandusky Settlements Cost Nearly $60M – “The university’s board of trustees had approved paying up to $60 million earlier this year, and the tab came to $59.7 million, the university said in a news release. The first multimillion-dollar settlement, with a 25-year-old man who was abused in a campus shower, was announced in mid-August. University officials predicted at that time that 25 more settlements would soon follow as part of a global agreement.”

October 22 2013

14:00

Obamacare’s Rocky Rollout: What Happens Now?

A terrible rollout of the sign-up system for the Affordable Care Act. We’ll ask why, and what it’s going to take to fix it.

Go to HealthCare.gov today, and the home page pops right up.  The photos are great.  The message is very appealing:  Affordable health care coverage available here!  Come and get it!  But dig on in and you will very likely hit the wall and the snags that have snarled and stymied sign-up for Affordable Care Act coverage – Obamacare – since the day the exchanges opened, October 1.  It’s has been a mess on the federal site.  Botched.  Now there’s a “tech surge” on to fix it, we’re told.  There had better be.  The stakes are over the moon.  Up next On Point:  Obamacare’s rugged rollout, and where it goes.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jenny Gold, healthcare reporter for Kaiser Health News. (@JennyAGold)

Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic, covering public policy and politics. Author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis — And The People Who Pay the Price.” (@CitizenCohn)

Armando Fox, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Gene Cronin, vice president of marketing at Priority Health of Michigan. (@PriorityHealth)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Health Website Woes Widen As Insurers Get Wrong Data — “Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.”

The New Republic: The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout — “HHS is working feverishly to make improvements and the system’s performance has improved incrementally. But people are still getting hung up at the initial stages, which means they never get the chance to apply for financial assistance and shop for plans. A study following web traffic showed a sharp drop-off in users at each successive stage of the online application process, which suggests the system was stopping a lot of people from moving forward. And that’s just the part of the system visible to consumers. Insurers say that the system is producing some incorrect information about the few people who make it through the process—a fixable problem, for sure, but a warning that other flaws may yet lurk undetected.”

Washington Post: We know 476,000 Obamacare applications have started. We don’t know how many will finish shopping – “Measuring enrollment is a difficult proposition. Most health insurance plans don’t count shoppers as enrolled until they’ve actually submitted a check for their first month’s premium. That means they’re entitled to start using the benefits of that health plan come Jan. 1, when any coverage purchased on the marketplace right now starts.”

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