CMS chief pledges fix

October 30, 2013 in Medical Technology

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, where she apologized to the American people for the botched Oct. 1 launch of, and promised prompt fixes.

The hearing on the status of the Affordable Care Act implementation was intended to help the panel oversee the ACA. It elicited many Republican concerns over dropped healthcare coverage, administrative waste and more, as House members tried to wrestle the answers they were seeking about the failure of, the federal website set up as a health insurance marketplace.

Nearly all of the committee members’ questioning of Tavenner focused on Obamacare’s defense or opposition; with some members, on both sides of the aisle, foregoing questions in favor of delivering speeches with their own views on the troubles.

Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, said the committee could not begin to fix the problems with Obamacare until the Administration reveals the extent of the problems.

“Instead of plowing forward with this unworkable law, the Administration should, at a minimum, seriously consider delaying the law for families and individuals, just as it has done for big business,” he said.

[See also: What happened to]

Tavenner said, as the head of CMS, she is the one ultimately responsible for the less-than-perfect rollout. This, she mainly attributed to a major underestimation in the number of people who would come to the site to apply for coverage. The site was tested end-to-end before the launch, based on estimates derived from the Medicare Part D site when it launched. The number of people who came to was many times over that number – something CMS and its contractors did not expect to happen, she said.

Glitches in application process

The glitches, Tavenner explained, are within the actual three-page application process, which determines whether an applicant is a candidate for the federal health insurance marketplace and federal assistance. Anyone coming to the website merely for information or to compare prices could still access that information on the main pages without any difficulty.

GOP members of the committee wanted to know how many of the more than 700,000 applicants reported by the Administration to have visited the site have now actually enrolled. Tavenner said those statistics would not be available until mid-November.  She also promised a Nov. 30 deadline for fixing the glitches in the system, with some fixes taking place on a daily basis.

Tavenner said the hub of has been working perfectly since the launch and has helped states with their application processes in a timely fashion. The problems have come for states that did not opt to participate in the federal health insurance exchange program, and thus must use the federal marketplace to enroll their beneficiaries.

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