By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- THREE WEEKS IN: Almost three weeks after the launch of the health insurance marketplace created by the president’s signature healthcare legislation, the online system continues to be plagued by technical problems, ABC’s MATTHEW LAROTONDA notes. Despite the setback, the Department of Health and Human Services announced this weekend that “nearly half a million” Americans have already applied for coverage through the website. Although the number does serve as a gauge of activity during the site’s early days, the White House has declined to release how many of those applications resulted in enrollment in a health insurance plan. Those figures are expected to be released in mid-November. http://abcn.ws/GWYLw7
- WHAT OBAMA WILL SAY: President Obama today will address head-on the technical problems with the rollout of his signature health care law, as his administration continues to do damage-control three weeks after HealthCare.gov launched, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. In a Rose Garden statement this morning, he will declare that the “glitches” are “unacceptable” and highlight steps he has called for to make it easier for consumers to shop for insurance and enroll while work continues to improve the website, according to a White House official. “He will remind the public that while these technical problems are unacceptable, the health care law is about much more than just a website – it’s about finally offering millions of Americans the health care security they deserve and giving new benefits and rights to those who have coverage today,” the official said. The president will be joined by small business owners, consumers and pharmacists who have been affected by the new law.
- WHAT THE GOP IS SAYING: A press release from the Republican National Committee: “Today the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting information on the number of Americans who have enrolled in health insurance through the ObamaCare website healthcare.gov. In the more than two weeks since the website went live, the Obama administration has refused to release any such numbers.”
- THE ‘SURGE’: On Sunday the Department of Health and Human Services published a blog titled ”Doing Better: Making Improvements to HealthCare.gov” announcing a so-called “tech surge” to fix the problems with the new website: “To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering. Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov. We’re also putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them. We are also defining new test processes to prevent new issues from cropping up as we improve the overall service and deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis.” http://1.usa.gov/1eC1Vky
NANCY PELOSI: OBAMACARE ROLLOUT GLITCHES ‘UNACCEPTABLE’. Sunday on “This Week,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the website glitches around the rollout of the president’s signature health care law were “unacceptable,” according to ABC’s BEN BELL. “As far as the Affordable Care Act, as I call it, the fact is, that yes what has happened is unacceptable in terms of the glitches,” Pelosi told ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ on “This Week.” “This has to be fixed, but what doesn’t have to be fixed is the fact that tens of millions of more people will have access to affordable, quality health care. That no longer having a preexisting medical condition will bar you from getting affordable care,” Pelosi added. http://abcn.ws/19UHZnS
NOTED: Raddatz also asked Pelosi about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s political future, following her return to the campaign trail Saturday for friend Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia governor’s campaign. Pelosi said she believes if Clinton does run for president in 2016, she would win and would be “a great president.” “Let me say, if Hillary Clinton does run, she’ll be one of the best prepared people and she will win, I believe, if she runs,” Pelosi said. “She’ll be one of the best prepared people to enter the White House in a long time.” “She would be a great president. It would be a very thrilling thing for our country. She happens to be a woman, but she’s first and foremost, extremely qualified,” Pelosi added.
ANALYSIS: From ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It took the better part of three weeks for the Obama administration to acknowledge that there are problems with HealthCare.gov that are about more than a crush of people trying to get on to the site – the same site the administration urged people to visit Day One. As of this writing, the administration refuses to say how many uninsured individuals have succeeded in signing up for coverage. As for that broken Website, what’s being done on the technical side to fix it — and by whom, and what it’s costing taxpayers — is also shrouded in secrecy. If it’s true, as the Treasury secretary said yesterday, that “no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the Web site,” he can start by not just saying it but showing it. There is no good reason, beyond protecting the administration from political embarrassment, for the White House not to release basic information about the mechanics behind the insurance exchanges that are critical to the functioning of the health care law. With the first congressional hearing Thursday, time is running out for the administration to control this storyline. (While we’re talking transparency, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would be well-advised to tell members of Congress what her scheduling conflict for that hearing is.)
JEB BUSH SAYS DISTASTE FOR DC WON’T IMPACT POTENTIAL 2016 WHITE HOUSE BID. Former Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that recent polling showing a distaste for Washington would not impact his decision on whether or not to seek the presidency in 2016, ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL report. “No, my decisions won’t relate to this. It deeply disturbs me as an American that loves my country, that we have this massive dysfunction,” Bush said in an interview with JONATHAN KARL for “This Week.” Bush told Karl that while he is still pondering a 2016 bid, “this is not the right time to be thinking about that.” He added that the concept of potentially having three Bush presidents – an idea seemingly lamented by former Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer in a recent interview - would not impact his decision. “That won’t be a motivating factor in my decision,” Bush said in response to Schweitzer, who said, “There’s a whole lot of America that looks at each other and says, ‘Well, there’s 340 million people living in America. Isn’t there somebody other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times?’” http://abcn.ws/1b3xIbC
HILLARY CLINTON DIVES BACK INTO POLITICS. In her first explicitly political event in more than four years, Hillary Clinton on Saturday officially endorsed long-time friend and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia to an enthusiastic crowd of his and her supporters, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP reports. “I’ve been out of politics for a few years now,” Clinton said to laughter and applause at the Women for Terry McAuliffe event. “I’ve had a chance to think a lot about what makes our country so great — what kind of leadership is required to keep it great.” “Yours!” called out someone from the crowd to cheers. As many people at the State Theater in Northern Virginia today wore “Hillary” pins or “Ready for Hillary” buttons as wore McAuliffe campaign buttons, as Clinton’s supporters looked for signs that she was ready to jump back into the political fray. And jump back in she did. Clinton denounced what she called the “scorched earth” politics of the government shutdown where “ideology trumps everything else.” “Recently in Washington unfortunately we’ve seen examples of the wrong kind of leadership,” Clinton said. “When politicians chose scorched earth over common ground, when they operate in what I call the ‘evidence-free zone,’ ideology trumping everything else. ” “That is not the kind of leadership we need in Virginia and America today,” she added.
–TERRY TALK: McAuliffe is a long time Clinton associate who was chairman of former President Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign and Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. McAuliffe was also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He introduced Clinton as a “an inspiration to men and women all across Virginia and all across the globe,” to chants of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary” from the audience. In her remarks Clinton vouched for McAuliffe as a longtime friend and family man. “He cares deeply about not only what happens to his own family and friends but to everyone,” Clinton said. “He has the biggest heart and the most open mind of everyone who you will ever meet.” Both Clintons have been working feverishly to raise money for McAuliffe’s race, which is seen by both parties as a political bellwether. http://abcn.ws/17B2ztB
WHAT WE’RE READING
“TED CRUZ GETS HERO’S WELCOME FROM TEXAS GOP WOMEN,” by the San Antonio Express-News’ John W. Gonzalez and Peggy Fikac. “With roars of approval from hundreds of GOP women gathered in San Antonio, Sen. Ted Cruz defended his political tactics in Congress on Saturday and vowed to continue the uphill fight against the new federal health care law despite backlash even from fellow Republicans. Dashing from city to Texas city to meet with constituents now that the federal budget crisis he’s blamed for has subsided, Cruz drew a hero’s welcome from the Texas Federation of Republican Women meeting at the Grand Hyatt. Acknowledging he’s ‘reviled’ by some in Washington, Cruz said it’s a relief to be back where he’s ‘appreciated.’ ‘It is tremendously uplifting to be back home,’ he said. ‘I’ve got a job, and it’s not to work for the party bosses in Washington, it’s to work for 26 million Texans,’ he said. … Cruz repeatedly lambasted Senate Republicans who didn’t stand with the House Republicans. ‘The deal that was cut … is a classic example of the Washington establishment selling the American people down the river,’ Cruz said. Cruz resumes his version of a victory lap in Houston on Monday, when an event billed as a ‘tea party welcome home’ is planned.” http://bit.ly/1c5HK0S
@pkcapitol: This @RepTimGriffin news is kinda amazing http://talkbusiness.net/2013/10/cong-tim-griffin-wont-seek-third-term/ … Just 45 yrs old, grew up in politics. Possible Congress is just awful life?
@jmartNYT: Bigger news than the T-D’s non-endorsement in Va Gov is that a pillar of conserv-leaning Richmond is for gay marriage http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/our-opinion/our-choice-for-governor-in-none-of-the-above/article_6a2c5e41-20f3-561a-a25d-52eedf4741f3.html?mode=jqm …