The Times West Virginian

Headline News

October 20, 2013

476,000 ‘Obamacare’ applications are filed

WASHINGTON — Administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges, the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. Without enrollment figures, it’s unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projecting by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.

Obama’s advisers say the president has been frustrated by the flawed rollout. During one of his daily health care briefings last week, he told advisers assembled in the Oval Office that the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the website ready to operate as promised.

The president is expected to address the problems on Monday during a health care event at the White House. Cabinet members and other top administration officials will also be traveling around the country in the coming weeks to encourage sign-ups in areas with the highest population of uninsured people.

The first three weeks of sign-ups have been marred by a cascade of computer problems, which the administration says it is working around the clock to correct. The rough rollout has been a glaring embarrassment for Obama, who invested significant time and political capital in getting the law passed during his first term.

The officials said technology experts from inside and outside the government are set to work on the glitches, though they did not say how many workers were being added.

Officials did say staffing has been increased at call centers by about 50 percent. As problems persist on the federally run website, the administration is encouraging more people to sign up for insurance over the phone.

The officials did not want to be cited by name and would not discuss the health insurance rollout unless they were granted anonymity.

Despite the widespread problems, the Obama administration has yet to fully explain what went wrong with the online system consumers were supposed to use to sign up for coverage.

Initially, administration officials blamed a high volume of interest for the frozen screens that many people encountered. Since then, the administration has also acknowledged unspecified problems with software and some elements of the system’s design.

Interest in the insurance markets appears to continue to be high. Officials said about 19 million people had visited HealthCare.gov as of Friday night.

People seeking insurance must fill out applications before selecting specific plans. The applications include personal information, including income figures that are used to calculate any subsidies the applicant may qualify for.

More than one person can be included on an application.

Of the 476,000 applications that have been started, just over half have been from the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead in running the markets. The rest of the applications have come from the 14 states running their own markets, along with Washington, D.C.

The White House says it plans to release the first enrollment totals from both the federal and state-run markets in mid-November.

An internal memo obtained by The Associated Press showed that the administration projected nearly a half-million people would enroll for the insurance markets during the first month.

Officials say they expect enrollments to be heavier toward the end of the six-month sign-up window.

In an ironic twist, the problems with the rollout were overshadowed by Republican efforts to get changes to the health care law in exchange for funding the government. That effort failed and the government reopened last week with the health care law intact.

Stung by that defeat, some Republicans are now calling for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The White House says it has complete confidence in her.

House Republicans have scheduled a hearing next week to look into the rollout problems. White House allies say they’re confident the problems are being addressed.

“There’s no question the marketplace website needs some improvement,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the architects of the law. “The administration needs to fix the computer bugs and I’m confident that they’re working around the clock to fix the problems.”

———

Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

———

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Ancient Animal Dig.jpg Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead in Taiwan plane crash

    Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized ‘Obamacare’ using fake IDs

    Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.
    The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online.

    July 24, 2014

  • Social Security spent $300M on ‘IT boondoggle’

    Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

    July 24, 2014

  • George Harrison memorial tree killed by beetles

     A tree planted in Los Angeles to honor former Beatle George Harrison has been killed — by beetles.

    July 23, 2014

  • ‘X-Men’ VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X.
    20th Century Fox has created an “X-Men”-themed virtual reality stunt especially for the pop-culture convention, which kicks off Thursday in San Diego. The interactive digital experience utilizes the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which is not yet available to consumers, to simulate the fictional Cerebro technology used to track down mutants by the character portrayed by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy in the “X-Men” films.

    July 23, 2014

  • Centenarian Weather W_time2.jpg At 101, weather observer gets a place in the sun

    It takes only a couple of minutes, twice a day, but 101-year-old Richard Hendrickson is fiercely proud that he has done the same thing for his country and community nearly every day since Herbert Hoover was in the White House in 1930.
    The retired chicken and dairy farmer, whose home sits in the heart of the ritzy Hamptons, has been recording daily readings of temperature and precipitation on eastern Long Island longer than any volunteer observer in the history of the National Weather Service.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 22, 2014

  • U.S. outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads