Slatest PM: The Healthcare.gov Blame Game

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 24 2013 4:34 PM

Slatest PM: The Healthcare.gov Blame Game

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Senior vice president of CGI Federal Cheryl Campbell, group executive vice president for Optum/QSSI Andrew Slavitt, corporate counsel for Equifax Workforce Solutions Lynn Spellecy, and program director for Serco John Lau are sworn in during a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee October 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Blame Game: Associated Press: "The leading contractors on the Obama administration's troubled health insurance website told Congress Thursday that the government failed to thoroughly test the complicated system before it went live. Executives of CGI Federal, which built the federal HealthCare.gov website serving 36 states, and QSSI, which designed the part that helps verify applicants' income and other personal details, testified under oath before the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. The contractors said they each tested their own components independently but that the Health and Human Services department was responsible for testing the whole system from end to end. That kind of testing didn't happen until the last couple of weeks before the system's Oct. 1 launch. It quickly crashed once consumers tried to use it."

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And Because This Is Congress: New York Times: "The hearing room was packed with spectators eager to witness the confrontation between lawmakers and business executives whose companies have received tens of millions of dollars to build the federal marketplace, or exchange. Politics pervaded the session. Republicans said that technical problems crippling the federal Web site epitomized fundamental flaws in the 2010 health care law, Mr. Obama’s most significant legislative achievement. Democrats said that the law was fundamentally sound, but that the Web site needed to be fixed immediately so people could get the insurance promised to them."

Monkey Court: Washington Post: "In one testy exchange during questioning of the company executives, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) derided the hearing as a 'monkey court,' chastising Republicans for raising privacy concerns that he said were specious. 'You are trying to scare people so they don’t apply' for health insurance on the exchanges, he said. He said Republicans want to undermine public trust in the law in an effort to delay or repeal it. His outburst came after two Republicans alleged that the federal marketplace does not adequately protect people’s medical privacy."

It's Thursday, October 24th, welcome to the Slatest PM. If today's your birthday, Happy Birthday! Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Twitter's IPO: Bloomberg: "Twitter Inc. is seeking as much as $1.4 billion in the largest Internet initial public offering since Facebook Inc., betting it can convince investors of its ability to turn 500 million tweets a day into profits. Twitter, based in San Francisco, plans to sell 70 million shares at $17 to $20 each in the offering, according to a regulatory filing today. The six-year-old short-messaging site, which draws more than 230 million monthly active users and has transformed the way people communicate, is taking advantage of renewed appetite for social-media stocks to sell a 13 percent stake. While the company has more than doubled revenue annually, it hasn’t yet turned a profit and the pace of user gains is slowing. ... Twitter is aiming to avoid the fate of Facebook, whose stock fell below its $38 debut price after its record $16 billion Internet IPO in May 2012, before finally rallying to close above that level in August."

National Guard Shooting: CBS/AP:" A member of the National Guard opened fire at an armory outside a U.S. Navy base in Tennessee, wounding two soldiers before being subdued and disarmed by others soldiers, officials said Thursday. Millington Police Chief Rita Stanback said the shooter was apprehended Thursday by other National Guard members, and that he did not have the small handgun used in the shooting in his possession by the time officers arrived. Stanback said two National Guard members were shot, one in the foot and one in the leg. ... The shooter was a recruiter who had been relieved of duty, said a law enforcement official briefed on the developments. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity."

Pirates Nab Two Americans: USA Today: "The United States is investigating reports that pirates kidnapped two Americans from a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa, where security has been a growing concern. The incident involves a U.S.-flagged vessel, the 222-foot C-Retriever, in the Gulf of Guinea. ... The ship's captain and chief engineer were abducted early Wednesday morning, according to the British security firm AKE. Rick Filon of AKE said Nigerian Central Naval Command has provided no additional information. ...  Maj. Mark Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, described the incident as 'a piracy attack on a commercial vessel off the coast of Nigeria.' ... U.S. Navy SEALs rescued American Capt. Richard Phillips off the coast of Somalia in 2009 when he was abducted by pirates who attacked his ship, the Maersk Alabama. But unlike the east coast of Africa there is no international counterpiracy mission off the coast of west Africa, Firman said."

2016 Watch: Reuters: "Billionaire financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor, is backing an effort to persuade former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, a spokesman said on Thursday. Soros, 83, has pledged $25,000 to political action committee Ready For Hillary, the largest and best-funded independent group backing a potential Clinton candidacy. ...  Soros' pledge puts him on the PAC's National Finance Council, along with several other major Democratic donors and officials, the group said. But symbolically, Soros' support could mean much more - particularly at a time when Clinton's supporters are seeking to ward off potential challengers to her in Democratic presidential primaries."

Obama's New Focus: NBC News: "President Barack Obama tried to refocus attention on the incomplete comprehensive immigration reform push Thursday, saying that 'this is the moment we should be able to finally get the job done.' ...  Earlier this month, major immigration protests were largely drowned out by the government shutdown and the ongoing fiscal crisis. ... A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner reiterated after the speech that the House GOP will not pursue one sweeping comprehensive immigration reform bill but will concentrate instead on the House's 'step by step' legislation. That's an approach most Democrats reject."

That's all for today. See you back here Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.