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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Technical and Legal Obamacare Woes

Sarah Kliff writes at The Washington Post:
Around 10 a.m. Monday morning, the Obama administration began using queuing software to meter entry into the Web site. At the time, the site had fewer than 40,000 users, somewhere in the "mid-30,000" range, as Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille put it.
"As we looked at error rates, that was the team's determination," Bataille said.
Most notably, the queuing system went up before hit its planned target of handling 50,000 concurrent users. When pressed on this point, Bataille referred to a separate metric that the administration has used to measure success: that 800,000 people be able to use the Web site in a single day.
Also at The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin write:
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.
The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.
ABC News reports:
Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Ga., was supposed to be a belated Obamacare success story. After weeks of trying, the 61-year-old told ABC News he fully enrolled in a new health insurance plan through the federal marketplace over the weekend, and received a Humana policy ID number to prove it.
But two days later, his insurer has no record of the transaction, Shlora said, even though his account on the government website indicates that he has a plan.
“I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it’s still going around, and it’s never going to leave the building,” he said. “I’ve lost hope. If it happens, great.”
Obama administration officials acknowledged today [December 2] that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.
CNBC reports:
It could take a year to secure the risk of "high exposures" of personal information on the federal Obamacare online exchange, a cybersecurity expert told CNBC on Monday [November 25].
"When you develop a website, you develop it with security in mind. And it doesn't appear to have happened this time," said David Kennedy, a so-called "white hat" hacker who tests online security by breaching websites. He testified on Capitol Hill about the flaws of last week.
"It's really hard to go back and fix the security around it because security wasn't built into it," said Kennedy, chief executive of TrustedSec. "We're talking multiple months to over a year to at least address some of the critical-to-high exposures on the website itself."
Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports at The New York Times:
More than a year after the Supreme Court upheld the central provision of President Obama’s health care overhaul, a fresh wave of legal challenges to the law is playing out in courtrooms as conservative critics — joined by their Republican allies on Capitol Hill — make the case that Mr. Obama has overstepped his authority in applying it.

A federal judge in the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in one of several cases brought by states including Indiana and Oklahoma, along with business owners and individual consumers, who say that the law does not grant the Internal Revenue Service authority to provide tax credits or subsidies to people who buy insurance through the federal exchange.

At the same time, the House Judiciary Committee will convene a hearing to examine whether Mr. Obama is “rewriting his own law” by using his executive powers to alter it or delay certain provisions. The panel also will examine the legal theory behind the subsidy cases: that the I.R.S., and by extension, Mr. Obama, ignored the will of Congress, which explicitly allowed tax credits and subsidies only for those buying coverage through state exchanges.

“We have agencies under this administration having an attitude that they can fix a statute, that they can improve upon a statute, that they can look at a statute’s clear language and disregard it,” Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who is bringing one of the cases, said in an interview Monday. “The president himself has said on more than one occasion, ‘I can’t wait on Congress.’ In our system of government, he has to.”