Judicial Watch today released 944 pages of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) records showing that the Obamacare website was launched despite serious concerns by its security testing contractor, Mitre Corporation, as well as internal executive-level apprehension about security.
The documents reveal that Mitre recommended a “Denial Authorization to Operate” in the month prior to Obamacare’s launch, noting that it could not adequately test the confidentiality and integrity of the system. It said that complete end-to-end testing of the system never occurred. Miter found that 11 “moderate” security findings and eight “low” findings remained open as September 19, 2013 – 12 days before the launch.
And an unsigned “Authorization to Operate” prepared just five days before Obamacare’s launch, indicates that the site’s “validation contractor” was “unable to adequately test the confidentiality and integrity of the [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] system in full.” That contractor, Blue Canopy, noted that they were able to access data “that should not be publically accessible.”
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It has become a tired, familiar act. Members of the House Freedom Caucus say they are the only true conservatives, while other congressional Republicans are RINOs, “Republicans in Name Only.” In the latest episode, the Freedom Caucus and its outside allies—including Heritage Action and FreedomWorks—denounced the GOP health-care bill as “ObamaCare Lite.”
These claims confused the grass roots but were simply untrue. Look at the legislation’s text, which canceled ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges, halted and reversed its Medicaid expansion, killed its taxes, and whacked its individual and employer mandates.
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You cannot do health care reform if it frightens patients who believe they will lose access to the care they are already receiving. This is why the Congressional Budget Office estimates showing tens of millions of people losing insurance as a result of what Speaker Paul Ryan and company were trying to do was so devastating. It’s that kind of reality that killed Obamacare after it became law. Whatever Congress does must ensure stability and continuity of care, especially among the most vulnerable populations during the transition period between what we have now and what comes next. Congress’ first concern when it comes to health care reform should be about producing better health outcomes.
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The Wall Street Journal makes an important point today about a subset of the Obamacare repeal fight: the lobbying to repeal the law’s taxes, like the ones on medical devices and investment income for the wealthy. It gets more complicated to get rid of them, the Journal points out, if President Trump and Congress don’t reach some kind of resolution on Trumpcare. That would shift all of the lobbying for repeal of those taxes to the tax reform fight, which is already likely to be complicated enough.
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The Trump administration on Thursday released a final rule that slashes the open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act coverage in 2018 in half, among other changes, in its first major regulatory change affecting Obamacare.
The regulation, which aims to stabilize the ACA exchanges, could have a significant impact on the marketplace, but it leaves unanswered insurers’ biggest question: whether the government would continue funding the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies, which help lower-income consumers afford out-of-pocket health costs.
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Fewer than 12 months ago, some people—aka, yours truly—raised a warning about Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions. The text of the law nowhere provided an appropriation for them, meaning that, as I wrote last May, the next President could shut them off unilaterally. At the time, I contacted several reporters, pointing out that such a move could have major implications for the health care law. None showed any interest in writing on the topic, and to the best of my knowledge, few if any reporters did.
Having now under-reacted regarding the issue during most of 2016, the media are compensating by over-reacting now. Since the House failed to pass “repeal-and-replace” legislation, breathless articles in multiple publications have examined the issue, whether the Trump Administration will cut off the subsidies, and whether insurers will bail on the Exchanges en masse as a result.
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As Republicans take another crack at devising a plan to replace ObamaCare, here’s an idea they should consider: Give each Medicaid patient a health savings account—and put $7,000 in it every year. Under ObamaCare, Medicaid has become the only option for millions of Americans. But that doesn’t mean much if the doctors in their communities don’t accept new patients through the program.
The GOP’s recently benched health care bill would have substantially reformed Medicaid by giving the states block grants, along with more flexibility on how to spend the money. But there’s a better model. Republicans should empower Medicaid patients by providing funds to them directly, which would allow them to build a personal safety net that could last a lifetime.
In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he was still considering what to do about the payments approved by his Democratic predecessor, President Obama, which some Republicans contend are unconstitutional. Their abrupt disappearance could trigger an insurance meltdown that causes the collapse of the 2010 health law, forcing lawmakers to return to a bruising debate over its future.
“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Mr. Trump said. “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt….What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”
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A majority (61 percent) of the public say that because President Trump and Republicans in Congress are in control of the government, they are now responsible for any problems with the ACA moving forward. About three in ten Americans (31 percent) say that because President Obama and Democrats in Congress passed the law, they are responsible for any problems with it.
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President Donald Trump has reiterated on several recent occasions that the effort to repeal and replace the ACA is far from over. Whether Republicans will hold another vote before the August recess, or even before the end of the year, remains uncertain.
For this second attempt at reform to succeed, the GOP needs to get back to the market- and patient-centered basics it’s spent years trumpeting to the public—and thereby lay the foundation for a competitive health insurance marketplace that offers affordable, quality care to all Americans.
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