Slatest PM: Sebelius Admits Healthcare.gov Still Needs "Hundreds" of Fixes

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 6 2013 4:39 PM

Slatest PM: Sebelius Admits Healthcare.gov Still Needs "Hundreds" of Fixes

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USKathleen Sebelius shakes hands with Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R) as Chairman Senator Max Baucus(D-MT) looks on as Sebelius arrives to testify on health insurance exchanges on November 6.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of Fixes: Associated Press: "Prodded to be more candid with Congress, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday the administration’s flawed health care website needed a couple of hundred fixes when it went online more than a month ago and conceded, 'we’re not there yet' in making all needed repairs. ... Despite the web site's well-chronicled woes, Sebelius said it has improved dramatically since the administration launched its repair effort ... she said it is now able to process nearly 17,000 registrations an hour, with almost no errors. She said a punchlist drawn up by Jeff Zients, who was brought in to oversee repairs, contained 'a couple of hundred functional fixes that have been identified and they are in priority grouping.'"

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Friendly Fire: Reuters: "Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee [and a lead author of Obamcare], who worried openly in April that the rollout could become 'a train wreck' said he has been disappointed to hear administration officials say they didn't see problems with the federal healthcare website HealthCare.gov coming. 'When we asked for updates on the marketplaces, the responses we got were totally unsatisfactory. We heard multiple times that everything was on track. We now know that was not the case'...  But Baucus also sounded a conciliatory note, saying he wanted to avoid assigning blame. 'That's in the past,' Baucus said. 'Now it's time to move forward and figure out how to fix it.'

Forced Into Retirement?: New York Times: "[Sebelius'] comments ... came just hours after the Obama administration said that the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, whose office supervised the creation of the troubled website, was retiring. The official, Tony Trenkle, will step down on Nov. 15 'to take a position in the private sector,' said an email message circulated among agency employees. ... Trenkle’s retirement is part of a management shake-up announced by Michelle Snyder, the chief operating officer of the Medicare agency, who was herself deeply involved in major decisions about the insurance marketplace, or exchange."

It's Wednesday, November 6th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @Dan_Gartland, and the whole team at @Slatest.

SCOTUS Hears Prayer Argument: New York Times: "The Supreme Court, which begins its sessions with an invocation to God, considered on Wednesday whether a town in upstate New York had crossed a constitutional line in opening its Town Board meetings with mostly Christian prayers. The justices seemed to find the issue unusually difficult, with several of them suggesting there was no satisfactory principled answer."

Was Arafat Poisoned?: ABC News: "A Swiss forensics investigation claims that the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned with radioactive polonium, the TV channel Al Jazeera reported today. In the 108-page report, the scientists say they found at least 18 times the normal levels of polonium in his rib, pelvis and in soil stained with his decaying organs. The investigation, a year in the making, concludes that Arafat had 'unexpectedly high levels' of polonium and that 'the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium.' ... Arafat's medical records state that he died in 2004 from a blood disorder that lead to a stroke."

Greenhouse Gases at an All-Time High: CBS News: "The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record in 2012, according to a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report released Nov. 6. The level of carbon dioxide has increased 41 percent since the start of the industrial era; methane is up 160 percent and nitrous oxide has risen by 20 percent. In Sept., the International Panel on Climate Change said it is 'extremely likely' that these climate changes are predominantly man made."

Super Typhoon on Crash Course with Philippines: Washington Post: "The western Pacific storm Haiyan has intensified without interruption since Sunday and is now a dangerous Category 5 super typhoon, with maximum sustained winds exceeding 160 mph.  It is on a path due west, and landfall Friday in the central Philippines is inevitable. Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – is likely the strongest storm to form on the planet this year. 'Based on satellite imagery, [Haiyan's] the strongest storm I’ve seen since Bopha (2012),' says Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics. Super typhoon Bopha, whose peak winds reached 175 mph, caused hundreds of fatalities on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in December 2012."

Hijacker Returns to U.S.: Reuters: "A former U.S. militant who hijacked a plane to Cuba almost 30 years ago flew home to the United States to face air piracy charges on Wednesday and was taken into FBI custody in Miami, an FBI spokesman said. William Potts was scheduled to appear before a U.S. judge in Miami on Thursday.... Potts' saga began in 1984 when he concealed a handgun in a cast upon boarding an airplane in Newark, New Jersey, headed for Miami. He hijacked the plane with 56 passengers aboard and forced the pilot to land in Havana, where he thought he would be welcomed. Instead, Potts was arrested and convicted of air piracy and served 13 years in a Cuban prison. After his release, he remained in Cuba, was married and has two young daughters who have lived in the United States since 2012."

T-Rex's Great Uncle: Associated Press: "Paleontologists on Wednesday unveiled a new dinosaur discovered four years ago in southern Utah that proves giant tyrant dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex were around 10 million years earlier than previously believed. A full skeletal replica of the carnivore — the equivalent of the great uncle of the T. rex — was on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah alongside a 3-D model of the head and a large painted mural of the dinosaur roaming a shoreline. ...  Paleontologists believe the dinosaur lived 80 million years ago in the late Cretaceous Period on a landmass in the flooded central region of North America."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. 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. 

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