Healthcare insurance executives were received at the White House today — but not to confront President Obama about the flub-ridden exchange launched on Oct. 1.
Instead, the CEOs of Aetna, Humana, CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Health Net, Inc., Health Care Services Corporation, Independence Blue Cross, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Molina Healthcare, Centene Corp., Tufts Health Plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Wellpoint and Kaiser Permanente got to meet with Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Meanwhile, on the Hill, Pelosi brushed off the tech implosion as something they just have to be able to fix because she doesn’t want to consider extending the individual mandate deadline.
Also in the White House meeting were Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Director Marilyn Tavenner, recently added Obamacare adviser Chris Jennings (a lobbyist and former Clinton adviser), and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
“The administration is committed to working in partnership with the insurers so we can successfully meet the great demand people have shown for the affordable health care coverage at the heart of the Affordable Care Act,” the White House said of the meeting, which it added focused on “open enrollment and ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
“Specifically, we are collaborating closely with the insurers to address problems we have witnessed in what are called ‘834’ forms and in direct enrollment. To that end, we have worked with the insurers and the ‘alpha teams’ we jointly established made up of insurers’ technology experts and CMS technology experts, to iron out kinks in the both the 834 forms and in direct enrollment. These ‘alpha teams’ are working side-by-side to correct challenges as soon as we see them. The teams have been meeting virtually with CMS and CGI and with tech teams associated with operations leaders on the industry,” the readout of the meeting continued.
“Drawing on the industry techs’ experience in this way is a part of the ‘tech surge’ that is incrementally improving performance at HealthCare.Gov. Today’s announcement is another way we are ensuring that we are doing everything possible to address the technical issues to ensure that all the American people who need it can purchase the affordable health care coverage made available as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”
An official with HHS met with House Democrats today to give them an update on the site’s problems.
At her press conference today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked if Democrats were asking about a delay of the individual mandate because of the faulty website.
“The nature of the questions was largely, let’s talk about what people are getting now. They are signing up. They know that they are going to have something pretty soon, and certainly, hopefully, by December 15th, where you have to start to start sign up, that this will be in place. But it was — it was more positive than that. No, no one got up and made that suggestion,” Pelosi said.
“Now, I did go out for my morning share of potassium for a moment, and somebody might — while I was getting that banana, somebody may have asked that question, but I think I would have known about that.”
She stressed that when it comes to getting the website fixed, “I have faith in technology.”
“We have a common sense initiative going forward. And what we want to do is fix it and go forward with it, not make policies that are predicated on how it’s now working.”
Pelosi grew increasingly frustrated when reporters kept hammering her with Obamacare questions, as she’d called the presser to lay out Democrats’ plans for a budget agreement before Thanksgiving.
“There certainly is accountability internally in terms of what decisions were made when and all of this, but I think that our focus and energy should be used to fix it because the American people are depending on it, and it’s going to be a beautiful thing in their lives to have that freedom of — I keep talking about life — a healthier life, liberty, the freedom to pursue their happiness, not chained to a policy but — but able to follow their passion,” she said. “And that’s how I see this: Fix the — fix the technology, and let’s not get too bogged down in what happens if they’re not able to fix it. Because, as I say, I believe in technology.”