Sebelius finds a silver lining in Obamacare 'data hub'

WASHINGTON Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:40pm EDT

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (L) during a healthcare event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (L) during a healthcare event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, besieged by bad news about the new government health care website, sought on Saturday to highlight a portion of the complex system that she said is working well.

The website, designed to let millions of uninsured Americans shop and enroll in health insurance, has been plagued by delays and error messages since it rolled out on October 1, embarrassing President Barack Obama as his administration scrambles to fix the problems.

In an upbeat blog post on Saturday, Sebelius released statistics to illustrate the volume of interest in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and the speed of the "data hub," one piece of the complex system behind HealthCare.gov.

Sebelius praised the performance of the data hub, which connects to the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service to verify applicants' identity and income.

She said it took the hub less than 1.2 seconds to route information, and called it "a model of efficiency and security."

"The Hub is on the job, and so are we," said Sebelius, who will be grilled about the website by Republican lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.

The hub was developed by Quality Software Services Inc, or QSSI, a unit of health insurer UnitedHealth Group.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced QSSI would now serve as "general contractor" to oversee repairs by the end of November, a step designed to build public confidence that the website can be salvaged in time for Americans to buy insurance by the end of the year.

The administration has been criticized for not releasing data on how many Americans have successfully enrolled for insurance - information it plans to unveil in November - although it has said almost 700,000 applications for insurance have been filled out.

The government expects about 7 million people to enroll for individual insurance in 2014.

Sebelius said the Social Security Administration has been pinged by the data hub more than 4.2 million times as individuals or households try to establish an account using a social security number, with the biggest numbers coming from Pennsylvania, New York, California, West Virginia and Washington.

The IRS has handled more than 1.3 million requests to verify income and family size tax data from the hub - about 80,000 requests per day - and has been able to provide responses through the hub in less than a second, on average, Sebelius said.

The IRS has also fulfilled more than 330,000 requests for a "computation service" that determines whether someone is eligible for subsidies based on their income, she said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (5)
Big2Tex wrote:
The most “good news” is also the most troubling. the only part of the website that seems to be working is the one linking your personal information of retirement and income to now your healthcare through the corrupt databases of the IRS. this is why no one should ever sign up for Obamacare. The government does not need to know about your health. phuck government.

Oct 26, 2013 4:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:
…nor have access to your bank account.

Only a politician can find success in the abject failure of the website. Instead of building it themselves, the could have gone to eBay, any major bank, or Amazon and let the professionals handle it who understand everything about concurrently managing enrollments and transactions. Instead, the dimwits inside the administration, who know little or nothing about technology, want to build it themselves.

More good news…. 75% of the enrollees signing up for ACA are doing so under the expanded Medicaid eligibility–where they pay nothing for their coverage.

That giant sucking sound is the tax dollars being pulled (again) from the wallets of working Americans and our young people. And without young people enrolling the entire system collapses under it’s own weight.

All the young people who supported the re-election of this President are now getting exactly what they asked for: More consumers of government services. Feel better now?

Oct 27, 2013 12:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bighammerman wrote:
The key here is to answer the question of how long can the country operate when there is a 1 trillion dollar deficit between the country’s revenue and the operating expenses. The answer is easy; it can’t operate for very long. We will first experience extreme inflation like what was seen in European history where you work for 2 weeks for enough pay to buy a shoelace. The Fed is printing money like crazy to keep up with the Obama administration’s spending and this will dilute your salary, savings and the value of your possessions. The example is extreme but the premise is real. Please look into this. I guarantee you will find answers that will help you see what the Obama Administration really is doing and you will form more questions that will be important to have answered. Questions like why is Quantitative Easing still needed after all this time? This is serious business and will drastically affect the future of the country. Next question; Why is Obama doing this?

Oct 27, 2013 11:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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