Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • Feds didn't provide enough time to test Obamacare website, contractors testify

    The federal agency tasked with building the health insurance exchange website for Obamacare did not provide enough time for end-to-end testing before it was launched, contractors who worked on the project told lawmakers on Thursday.

    Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, representatives from two companies that were instrumental to building HealthCare.gov said they should have tested it for months, but were given only weeks before it went live. The site has been riddled with glitches and inaccessibility problems since its Oct. 1 launch.

    Testing for the site occurred only “in the last two weeks of September,” CGI Federal Senior Vice President Cheryl Campbell said.

    “It would have been better to have more time,” Campbell said. “This is by far the most complex (online system) in our country in a very long time.”

    Andrew Slavitt, the executive vice president of Optum/QSSI, the company that built the site’s Data Services Hub, testified that federal authorities at the Centers

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  • Obamacare website fixes will meet deadlines, contractors say

    The glitch-ridden website built for people to purchase compulsory health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will be fixed in time for applicants to enroll in plans before the law’s deadline to sign up, contractors who built the site assured lawmakers on Thursday.

    “The experience will be improved as we go forward, and people will be able to enroll by the Dec. 15 time frame,” Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president for CGI Federal, the company that helped build the government website, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We’re seeing improvements day over day.” (People who want their coverage to become effective Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15.)

    The launch of HealthCare.gov has been fraught with accessibility problems since it launched Oct. 1. Users have complained that they are unable to create accounts or complete the application process to buy insurance from companies participating in the new government-run marketplace.

    On Thursday, the Republican-majority

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  • Some Democrats open to changing Obamacare deadlines

    Affordable Care Act supporters are hoping the embarrassing rollout problems with the law's implementation can be resolved quickly, but if they can't, some Democrats are opening the door to delaying or extending some of the mandates in the 2010 law.

    “If the problems are intense as they are this morning, then maybe we would have to consider a short delay in terms of the individual mandate,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, a member of the Health subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, said on Wednesday. “I say, 'maybe.' I have a good feeling that we’re going to overcome these things.”

    Pascrell made the comments after attending a briefing led by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials Gary Cohen and Julie Bataille on the state of the law’s implementation. Talk of delaying the mandate did not come up during the private meeting, he said.

    Democrats are frustrated that HealthCare.gov, the website where Americans in 36 states can access the health insurance exchanges

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  • A top Democrat apologizes for calling the Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare’

    For some on the left, the sun may be setting on the term “Obamacare,” the nickname used for a time by both Republicans and Democrats to describe the health insurance overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act.

    Three weeks after the disastrous rollout of the law's health insurance exchanges, the White House and congressional Democrats are on defense against calls from Republicans to delay the law because of the ongoing glitches on the website. On Tuesday, one top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, acknowledged that the website for the exchanges needed to be fixed, but he also apologized after he referred to the law as “Obamacare.”

    “I’m sure that if I were a Republican, I would yell and scream about it as well. They don’t like Obamacare. I think Obamacare — strike that — the Affordable Care Act, I’m sorry I called it that. I think the Affordable Care Act substantially is a good piece of legislation that will prove to be very beneficial to the American people,” Hoyer said during a

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  • Top biz group vows ‘vigorous’ spending for GOP in 2014

    The nation’s largest business advocacy group vowed on Monday a “vigorous” round of political spending to keep the U.S. House of Representatives Republican in President Barack Obama's final two years in the White House.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will begin spending on congressional races as early as next spring, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue said on Monday.

    “On behalf of the American business community, given a choice, I would not like to see this administration with a White House, the Senate and the House,” Donohue said during a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think it would be a long two years. You can be sure that we’ll be very vigorous in the House. We’ll also participate in the Senate.”

    The Senate and White House are currently controlled by Democrats while Republicans have a majority in the House.

    The Chamber, which spent $33.8 million on federal elections in 2010 and $35.6 million during last year’s election, according to Federal

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  • Don't expect a 'grand bargain' in 2013

    Americans wishing for a "grand bargain" this Christmas are likely to be disappointed.

    The bipartisan conference committee established by last week’s 11th-hour agreement to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling probably won’t produce a truly groundbreaking bipartisan deal that would end the nation's debt problem once and for all, nor are the members aiming that high.

    At best, the budget resolution that comes out of the committee may serve as a "down payment" on that debt and provide Congress an opportunity to fulfill its most basic function of setting spending levels so the appropriations committees can fund the government.

    In other words, it is likely to be literally the least lawmakers could do — which would be quite an achievement for this unpopular, do-nothing Congress.

    As part of the agreement to temporarily keep the government open, the House and Senate have appointed 29 lawmakers to a conference committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate budget proposals that

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  • Cruz put RNC in tight spot during shutdown

    When Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz began his 21-hour speech on the Senate floor in protest of Obamacare, the Republican National Committee, seeing an opportunity to rally supporters and donors, quickly got behind him.

    The party's website launched a Stand With Ted page to collect signatures, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus penned a letter in support of the freshman lawmaker.

    “In a fight between Harry Reid and Ted Cruz, I will stand with Ted Cruz any day,” Priebus wrote. “Today, Senator Cruz has taken the fight to defund ObamaCare to the Senate floor. I hope you will join me in standing with him in solidarity.”

    Cruz had recently led a coalition of conservative lawmakers to persuade House GOP leaders to scrap their original plans and adopt his quixotic scheme to refuse to fund the government unless Obamacare was defunded. The government shut down for 16 days as a result.

    Even after the shutdown began, the RNC continued to offer support for lawmakers who wanted to keep up the fight against

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  • Defeated, some Republicans admit misstep in linking Obamacare fight to shutdown

    "This isn't some damn game!” Republican House Speaker John Boehner boomed from Capitol Hill earlier this month, three days after the federal government shut down. However you wish to characterize the past few weeks, one thing is for certain: The GOP lost this one.

    “We fought the good fight, we just didn’t win,” a quieter, more conciliatory Boehner conceded on Wednesday in an interview with Cincinnati’s WLW radio station.

    And now, this particular fight appears to be at its end. Senate leaders announced on Wednesday that they had struck a deal to reopen the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, which would free up more time for budget negotiations. Republicans got very, very little in return.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Boehner called all House GOP lawmakers to a private meeting in the basement of the Capitol Building, the same room where they have met almost daily to discuss, debate and even sing together during the shutdown, as they pieced together a strategy

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  • New House Republican plan dead before arrival as default looms

    House Republican leaders abandoned a plan to hold a vote on a new proposal to reopen the government and hike the debt ceiling on Tuesday night, pushing the U.S. government closer to a default amid continued GOP disagreement over how to end the high-stakes budget standoff. 

    With just a few days left before the federal government reaches its borrowing limit, House Republican leaders had unveiled a proposal earlier in the day to reopen the government and raise the borrowing limit that they thought could pass the embattled Republican-led chamber. But just moments after Republicans submitted it to the House Rules Committee for a review, the panel announced that it would postpone its hearing indefinitely — suggesting the votes were not there to pass it.

    The key parts of the plan would have kept the government open through mid-December and grant the Treasury Department authorization to borrow through February. But the proposal also includes a stipulation that members of Congress, their staff

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  • Both parties aim to score political points from the shutdown

    Republicans and Democrats are using the ongoing battle over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling to bludgeon vulnerable candidates with paid-messaging campaigns, efforts that offer a glimpse into their political playbooks before the midterm elections next year.

    The attack campaigns, which have come in the form of online ads and robocalls in battleground states, also shine a light on how political gamesmanship can drive policy decisions in Washington.

    For example, since the government shut down Oct. 1, House Republicans have held a series of votes to fund a handful of popular government programs with full knowledge that Democrats would reject them. While refusing to hold a vote on a “clean” funding bill to reopen the entire government, Republicans have voted to fund programs such as the National Park System and National Institutes of Health. Many House Democrats crossed party lines to vote for them, but the Democrat-led Senate has rejected the piecemeal approach.

    It was a

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