Healthcare.gov Will Work Smoothly By End Of November, Government - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Healthcare.gov Will Work Smoothly By End Of November, Government Pledges

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - The troubled federal health insurance website will be fixed by the end of November, giving uninsured Americans two weeks to get signed up in time to have health insurance by the earliest possible date, officials pledged Friday.

One of the main government contractors, QSSI, has been assigned to oversee the fix, says Jeff Zients, the newly appointed chief White House economic adviser who's been tasked to fix the logjammed website.

"We are confident that by the end of the November, healthcare.gov will be smooth for the vast majority of users," Zients told reporters on a conference call.

"Over the last week we worked with a team of experts to conduct an assessment of the overall state of the healthcare.gov site," Zients said. They lent "fresh eyes" to the problems plaguing the site. "The system is getting better," he added. "There is a lot of work to do but healthcare.gov is fixable."

The website, which was promoted as a kind of Travelocity.com for buying health insurance, has been an embarrassment to the Obama administration since it opened Oct. 1. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she did not know it would be such a disaster.

"I didn't realize it wouldn't be operating optimally before the launch," she told reporters while on a tour of East Austin Health Center in Austin, Texas, where she watched counselors help people struggling to use the website.

"We knew if we had another six months, we'd probably test further," Sebelius added.

On Thursday, several contractors, including QSSI, told a House committee that the site wasn't tested "end to end" until just two weeks before launch. They said they'd have preferred to have had months to test it.

Republicans and Democrats alike have been strongly critical of the site, and Republicans have said they believe the problems reflect weaknesses in the entire health care overhaul called for by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The administration denies this and says the website, one of the main pillars of the reforms called for under the law, is getting better every day. Eventually the administration hopes 7 million people who currently do not have any health insurance will use the site to buy it. Most people will likely qualify for heavy government subsidies to do so.

The law requires just about everyone to have health insurance of some sort by next year. Most people are covered by insurance provided by an employer; most people over 65 have Medicare. But about 15 percent of Americans have no health insurance at all. Some states are expanding Medicaid, the health insurance plan for people with low incomes, to more adults but many are not.

Zients says 90 percent of people who come to the website now can create an account. But only about three in 10 can get all the way through the application process, he said.

He says he has a "punch list" of items to fix, including software bugs that have prevented the system from operating smoothly.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • One person dead after hit & run in Spokane Valley

    One person dead after hit & run in Spokane Valley

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:02:36 GMT
    KHQ.COM - One person is dead after a hit and run near I-90 Park Rd. in Spokane Valley. It happened around 1:30 am on Tuesday. At this point police do not have a suspect description but are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.>>
    KHQ.COM - One person is dead after a hit and run near I-90 Park Rd. in Spokane Valley. It happened around 1:30 am on Tuesday. At this point police do not have a suspect description but are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.>>
  • VIRAL VIDEO: Holy Moly! This girl is definitely NOT afraid of spiders!

    VIRAL VIDEO: Holy Moly! This girl is definitely NOT afraid of spiders!

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:00 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:00:12 GMT
    KHQ.COM - You don't even know what this girl is about to do to prove she is definitely NOT afraid of spiders! Is she crazy or just fearless? Would you do this for $500? $1,000? $20,000? >>>WATCH>>>>>
    KHQ.COM - You don't even know what this girl is about to do to prove she is definitely NOT afraid of spiders! Is she crazy or just fearless? Would you do this for $500? $1,000? $20,000? >>>WATCH>>>>>
  • PHOTOS: Share your back-to-school pics!

    PHOTOS: Share your back-to-school pics!

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 16:18:59 GMT
    KHQ.COM - School is starting! Everyone knows the drill right? Before you can run out the door and jump on the bus, mom always has to snag a picture to remember her little baby growing up through the years! We want to see those photos! Whether they are from this year, last year or 50 years ago, send us the photos of your first day of school!>>
    KHQ.COM - School is starting! Everyone knows the drill right? Before you can run out the door and jump on the bus, mom always has to snag a picture to remember her little baby growing up through the years! We want to see those photos! Whether they are from this year, last year or 50 years ago, send us the photos of your first day of school!>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Home Depot investigating potential credit and debit card breach

    Home Depot investigating potential credit and debit card breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:10 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:10:56 GMT
    Home improvement retailer Home Depot says it may be the latest victim of a massive credit card security breach. The Atlanta-based company confirmed Tuesday that it is looking into "unusual activity" and it's working with both banks and law enforcement.>>
    Home improvement retailer Home Depot says it may be the latest victim of a massive credit card security breach. The Atlanta-based company confirmed Tuesday that it is looking into "unusual activity" and it's working with both banks and law enforcement.>>
  • US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,202

    US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,202

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 4:24 PM EDT2014-09-02 20:24:36 GMT
    KHQ.COM - As of Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at least 2,202 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.>>
    KHQ.COM - As of Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at least 2,202 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.>>
  • Video released by ISIS shows beheading of US journalist

    Video released by ISIS shows beheading of US journalist

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:14 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:14:48 GMT
    BEIRUT (AP) - An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group. >>
    BEIRUT (AP) - An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group. Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syrian in August 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.>>