'Come Back In,' But Is HealthCare.Gov Fine?
By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
- 'THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE A POSITIVE ONE': The Obama administration formally began summoning frustrated consumers back to HealthCare.gov to try again yesterday, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services announced it had begun emailing 275,000 Americans who attempted to create an account on the website shortly after Oct. 1, but could not do so because of software glitches. We are "inviting them to come back in," CMS communications director Julie Bataille said on a conference call with reporters. "We have addressed the majority of issues associated with that account creation process … those are communications that begin today and continue through the end of the week." Bataille said the email blast is the first of several planned "waves" of outreach to lure back frustrated customers. Asked whether the agency believes the revamped website can handle the volume of traffic, Bataille said it is. "Their experience will be a positive one," she said. http://abcn.ws/1aD0Gge
- DEADLINE LOOMS: But the Washington Post reports this morning that HealthCare.gov continues to struggle under high traffic volume, essentially crashing when as few as 20-30,000 people attempt to use it at the same time. The paper's headline declares that the site is "unlikely to work fully" by the end of the month, DWYER notes. ABC News has reported that the site is still struggling to handle heavy usage, and that the punch list of problems is not getting much shorter ahead of a Nov. 30 deadline. Based conversations with health IT experts, there is a very real possibility that the site will not be "optimally functional" for the "vast majority" of users by Dec. 1, as has been promised by top administration officials.
- NEXT UP FOR A GRILLING: This morning the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing to examine the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has subpoenaed Obama Administration's Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to testify although aides have not indicated whether he is expected to comply and appear as a witness.
ANALYSIS - ABC's RICK KLEIN: How much wiggle room does the Obama administration have with its allies? Amid slipping public-opinion ratings, this factoid stands out: A majority - 52 percent in the new Quinnipiac University poll - say President Obama is not "honest and trustworthy," a hit he took after acknowledging he couldn't keep his famous health-care promise. In a chorus of critics, this voice stands out: Former President Bill Clinton, opining that changing the law to keep that old promise might be in order. (Thanks, but remembering Clinton's history in trying to push health-care reform doesn't change the current critique.) And among week-kneed friends on Capitol Hill, this concern is from someone different: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. - as safe as any lawmaker gets, and well out of cycle anyway - is backing a bill to require insurers to offer their current health plans again next year. The window for the president's ability to act by himself to make good on his new pledge to help those losing their health coverage is closing. When enrollment figures do come out this week, consider that the hole for the uninsured population going forward is getting deeper with all those cancellation letters. The reservoir of trust with the president's allies, meanwhile, it getting shallower.
EXCLUSIVE: OBAMACARE'S MYSTERY WOMAN SAYS SHE FELL VICTIM TO CYBERBULLIES. The smiling woman who was once the face of the Affordable Care Act's website has come out of the shadows to stand up to the "cyberbullying" she says she suffered after the law's flawed kickoff, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. Speaking exclusively to ABC News, Adriana, who asked that only her first name be used, said she was speaking out now to defend herself after weeks of enduring online lampooning. "They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They're cyberbullying," Adriana told ABC News' Amy Robach. "I'm here to stand up for myself and defend myself and let people know the truth," she said. http://abcn.ws/1j3YZNY WATCH Amy Robach's "Good Morning America" report": http://abcn.ws/1bD2NUa
-'I DON'T KNOW WHY PEOPLE SHOULD HATE ME': Adriana learned over the summer that her photo would be on healthcare.gov's main page, but she didn't realize it would become so closely associated with the problems of the glitchy website. "I mean, I don't know why people should hate me because it's just a photo. I didn't design the website. I didn't make it fail, so I don't think they should have any reasons to hate me," Adriana told ABC News. Speculation swirled that Adriana might not be a legal resident of the United States, and therefore not even eligible for the health care exchanges. Adriana said she is a wife and mother who lives in Maryland with her 21-month-old son and husband of six and a half years. Her husband is a U.S. citizen, as is his her son. Adriana, who is Colombian, said she has lived legally in the U.S. for more than six years, is currently a permanent resident and is applying for citizenship. Though she is eligible for healthcare through the ACA, Adriana says she hasn't signed up for it, and is neither in favor nor against it. http://abcn.ws/1j3YZNY
-BACKSTORY: On Oct. 1, 2013, when the ACA's website launched to enroll Americans in health insurance through federally run exchanges, it was Adriana's face that greeted them. Dubbed the "enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care," her face was soon mocked, Photoshoped, altered. She became the subject of late-night jokes, partisan hatred and intense speculation. The saga of the photo started innocuously enough. Seeking free family photographs, Adriana emailed a contact at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act's rollout, about having photos of her and her family taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law. She was never paid. http://abcn.ws/1j3YZNY
TOP HOUSE DEMOCRAT: 'THE PRESIDENT WAS NOT PRECISE.' Democrats are beginning to show signs of division as the House of Representatives prepares to vote this week to ensure that the millions of Americans who have received cancellation notices of their health care plans can keep their preferred coverage, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. The Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurance plans currently available to individuals to be offered in 2014 without penalty under the law's individual mandate, is expected to come up for a vote in the House this Friday. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer admitted yesterday that the president and other Democrats were "not precise" as they stumped in favor of the health care overhaul. "The president was not precise and I think that was - he should have been precise. We all should have been more precise," Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the lower chamber, confessed during a briefing with reporters at the Capitol. "He was not precise enough, and therefore it's led to the position we now find ourselves in." Hoyer worked to draw a distinction between people keeping policies they obtained before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act on March 25, 2010, and those who acquired health care coverage plans that do not meet criteria set in Obamacare after the president signed the bill into law. "Had [President Obama] been more precise talking about if you had a policy prior to the signing of the bill where criteria were not applied they were grandfathered in. You know, if you liked it you could keep it," Hoyer, D-Md., explained. "If you got a policy subsequent to that that didn't meet the criteria, that's what you're seeing cancellations on [now]." http://abcn.ws/17SxS9x
NOTED: AMERICA'S HATRED OF CONGRESS IN ONE CHART. Congress has officially reached a new low point, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that Congress' approval rating has dropped to an all-time low - 9 percent. It is the lowest approval rating since Gallup first asked Americans how they felt about Congress 39 years ago. The poll, which was conducted from Nov. 7-10, brings the 2013 approval rating average to 14 percent. During the government shutdown, congressional approval fell to 11 percent. The previous low point was 10 percent, which occurred twice in 2012. Gallup tweeted a graph showing the plunge approval rating over a five year period: http://abcn.ws/HQ0l3J
SENATE DEMOCRATS RE-CONSIDER 'NUCLEAR OPTION' AFTER REPUBLICANS BLOCK ANOTHER OBAMA NOMINEE. Senate Republicans blocked another one of President Obama's nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court Tuesday, prompting speculation about whether Democrats will try to change the Senate's filibuster rules, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The Senate voted 56-41 in a procedural vote on the nomination of Nina Pillard to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit Court, falling four votes shy of the 60 needed to pass. Democrats, like Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were infuriated and argued that a rules change should be considered. "I think it's a turning point for this body because I think it will necessarily involve us to re-examine these rules," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. Leahy argued Tuesday that the Republicans who helped avert a major change in the rules this summer are now needlessly filibustering nominees who are completely qualified. "We had a lot of Republicans who said that time there should be only a filibuster in the most extraordinary circumstance. Each one of those Republicans who said that have filibustered this time on this," Leahy said, slamming his hand on the podium. "Their credibility is shred." http://abcn.ws/17oEkPI
-BACKSTORY: Senate rules currently require 60 votes in order to close debate on a bill or nominee. Republicans and Democrats brawled over the summer when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to employ the "nuclear option," which would have changed Senate rules with a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 67 currently needed. The two sides eventually came to an agreement that kept Senate rules intact and avoided the "nuclear option."
MCCONNELL USES OBAMACARE AS RX FOR ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who is fighting a two front reelection battle, said yesterday his Democratic opponent, would be "trying to run away" from Obamacare, which he called the "single worst piece of legislation that has been passed in modern times." "The panic has set in, the troops are restless and on a daily basis you will see some Democrats in some red states come up with a new way to try and distance themselves from Obamacare," McConnell said in his first official campaign press conference, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. The Kentucky senator is being challenged by Democrat Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. He also faces a challenge from within the GOP by Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin. At his news conference today, McConnell ignored Bevin and said Democrats in red states like Kentucky are "wringing their hands trying to figure out how they are going to get away " from the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is sure to be at the heart of his re-election campaign. When asked if he thought the law would help with access, McConnell said twice "I think the law should be repealed." http://abcn.ws/1hDwtaH
MICHELLE OBAMA RECALLS BEING TOLD SHE'D 'NEVER GET INTO' PRINCETON. First Lady Michelle Obama attended two of America's finest schools - Princeton University and Harvard Law School. But on Tuesday she told a group of underprivileged Washington, DC high schoolers - many of whom are hoping to be the first in their families to go to college - that she once faced many of the same challenges and doubts as they do, ABC's BETSY KLEIN reports. "I was willing to do whatever it took for me to go to college," Obama said. "Get this - some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high. They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton… Nobody was going to take my hand and lead me to where I needed to go. Instead, it was going to be up to me to reach my goal. I would have to chart my own course." Speaking to sophomores at D.C.'s Bell Multicultural High School, Obama talked about riding the city bus across Chicago an hour each way to high school, forming close relationships with her teachers and administrators, pursuing leadership opportunities, and studying to have the strongest academic record possible so that she could attend her dream school - Princeton. Mrs. Obama was touting her husband's "North Star" Goal, that by the year 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. http://abcn.ws/HTvOCq
ALL 5 LIVING PRESIDENTS (AND TAYLOR SWIFT, JERRY SEINFELD, UMA THURMAN, ETC.) RECITE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. "Four Score and Seven Years Ago …" were words immortalized by President Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1863. Now many of today's most famous faces have brought those words back to life, ABC's NICKI ROSSOLL notes. In a new video project, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns unites all five living presidents, Taylor Swift, Uma Thurman, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Roberts, Nancy Pelosi and a slew of other politicians and media personalities to recite those historic words, just as Abraham Lincoln did 150 years ago. The video series is part of the Learn the Address project, a new initiative started by Burns to "encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech." On Nov. 19, the day of the anniversary, a commemorative ceremony will be held at Soldiers' National Cemetery in Pennsylvania. President Obama was invited to the event, but the White House is instead sending Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, a decision that does not sit well in the Keystone State, which went for Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. http://abcn.ws/171jx7v
@russellberman: Part 2 of my series on the failure of immigration reform in the House - Boehner won't commit, & the Republicans bail http://thehill.com/homenews/house/190060-how-immigration-died-part-2-boehner-bails …
@HotlineJosh: "How A Budget Deal Will Die" - @TimAlberta @SarahMimms joint http://www.nationaljournal.com/daily/partisan-conflict-shadows-budget-conference-20131112 …
@JohnJHarwood: saying you back O-care but would let ppl keep cancelled policies like saying you back tax hike to build roads but ppl can keep old tax rates
@RealClearScott: In 1995 campaign, Chris Christie ran on support for abortion rights. After losing, he shifted quickly. w/ @adamoradio http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/11/13/christies_early_missteps_shaped_future_triumphs_120651.html …