White House Ramps Up ACA Defense, Hosts Meeting With Insurers
In an effort to shift the nation's attention away from the glitch-plagued rollout of the federal health insurance exchange website, the Obama administration is dispatching cabinet members and top administration officials nationwide as part of an Affordable Care Act promotion blitz, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports (Sink, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 10/23).
On Wednesday, a White House official confirmed with CNN that the secretaries and officials will visit "10 cities across the country with the highest rates of uninsured Americans to do enrollment events and other grassroots activities." Another official also confirmed that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will visit Austin, Texas, Phoenix and San Antonio this week as part of the promotion and outreach initiative (Bohn, "Political Ticker...," CNN, 10/23).
Meanwhile, the other secretaries and officials -- who were not named -- will make visits to Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and four other cities in Florida and New Jersey ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 10/23).
Obama Appeals Directly To ACA, Democratic Supports
In a related development, President Obama -- in a YouTube video released by Organizing For Action, the political action offshoot of his presidential campaign organization -- appealed to supporters to help individuals in their communities enroll in coverage under the law, the Los Angeles Times' "Politics Now" reports.
OFA plans to distribute informational material to participating individuals and formally kick off the "Team Obamacare" initiative on Nov. 4 with a "working dinner" in Washington, D.C., where founding members and partner groups will develop ideas on how to boost enrollment (Reston, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/22).
He also assured supporters and general consumers that the White House is "boosting our efforts" to fix HealthCare.gov -- the federal exchange portal -- so that they will be signed up quickly and easily for health coverage (Epstein, Politico, 10/22).
White House Officials Meet With Top Insurance CEOs
As part of its broader effort to reassure the nation about the federal exchange, Sebelius on Wednesday hosted a White House meeting with health insurance executives to discuss the ongoing efforts to resolve the exchange website problems, Reuters reports (Lawder/Felsenthal, Reuters, 10/23).
CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, were also present at the meeting with leaders of 14 major insurers (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/23).
According to a White House news release, the meeting focused on addressing the coordination of enrollment data standards via an "834," a technical, back-end reporting tool on the federal exchange website. According to Modern Healthcare, the tool has been a cause of some of the problems in how the website relays information with insurers that are offering plans in the three dozen states that depend on the website (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 10/23).
Following the meeting, Robert Zirkelbach -- spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans -- said the talks were "positive and productive" and allowed the executives "to provide an on-the-ground perspective of how open enrollment is proceeding."
AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni, who also attended the meeting, said, "Our industry is committed to working with the administration to help ensure individuals and families are able to get the health care coverage they need" (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 10/23).
HHS, CMS To Host Regular Briefings on HealthCare.gov Fixes
In related news, Sebelius -- in a post on HHS' "Digital Strategy" blog -- said the department and CMS will conduct regular briefings on the progress of resolving the issues with HealthCare.gov, Reuters reports (Rampton, Reuters, 10/23). Sebelius also posted an infographic charting the issues facing the website and the efforts to resolve them (CQ HealthBeat, 10/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.