White House May Lower Expectations on Healthcare Fix Deadline

Image: White House May Lower Expectations on Healthcare Fix Deadline Deputy chief information officer for Medicare and Medicaid Services Henry Chao.

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 10:48 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The Obama administration is hedging its bet that the problem-plagued Healthcare.gov website will be fixed by Nov. 30, saying now that it will only be "greatly improved" from its disastrous launch on Oct.1.

"The consumer experience . . . will be greatly improved for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30," Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov's chief project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, is expected to tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday, according to testimony prepared in advance that was obtained by Fox News.

With 11 days to go before the deadline, Fox News suggested in its report that Chao's testimony may be part of an effort by the White House to lower expectations about how well the site will work.

The Washington Post also reported that the administration will consider the site fixed if at least 80 percent of consumers who visit are able to enroll and sign up for health insurance coverage. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defined the other 20 percent as people who won't be able to purchase through the website or who will never try.

"We will not have a perfect website," Carney told reporters, according to the Post. "And that's why there are call-in centers, [for] those who prefer to do it the old fashioned way."

President Barack Obama may have been lowering expectations himself when he told a Dallas crowd last Wednesday that officials "anticipate" the website will be fixed.

"We are working overtime to get this fixed," he said. "The website is already better than it was at the beginning of October. And by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to, all right? And folks are working 24/7 to make sure that happens."

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