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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

** FILE ** Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican (Associated Press)

Some are in, some are out of Obamacare on Capitol Hill

Members of Congress had to decide by Thursday which of their staffers would be kicked off their congressional health care plan and forced to buy coverage through the Obamacare exchanges, leading to a mishmash of legal strategies and recriminations on Capitol Hill. Published October 31, 2013

Cathey Park of Cambridge, Mass., points to her "I Love Obamacare" cast just signed by President Barack Obama after he spoke at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall about the federal health care law, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Faneuil Hall is where former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama's rival in the 2012 presidential election, signed the state's landmark health care law in 2006, with top Democrats standing by his side. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

D.C. health exchange security question: What are your Lotto numbers?

Problems with web-security questions were one of the key glitches the Obamacare rollout faced early on, both on federal and state-based exchanges. Now that they're working more smoothly, at least one congressman is poking fun at a question on the D.C.-run exchange in which federal lawmakers and their staffs are expected to enroll. Published October 31, 2013

** FILE ** Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Obamacare not for me, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius says

President Obama’s top health care official apologized Wednesday for the broken Obamacare website and said it would take another month to fix — but even as she defended the law as a good deal for most Americans, she said there was no reason for her to have to purchase coverage from the exchanges. Published October 30, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pauses on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, prior to testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Sebelius, President Barack Obama's top health official faced tough questioning by a congressional committee Wednesday that will demand she explain how the administration stumbled so badly in its crippled online launch of the president's health care overhaul.  (AP Photo/ J. Scott Applewhite)

Sebelius: 'Hold me accountable for this debacle'

President Obama's top health official admitted to Congress on Wednesday that Obamacare's main website faces a litany of problems, including the delivery of inaccurate data to insurers and glitches that do not allow uninsured Americans to enroll, resulting in a "miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans." Published October 30, 2013

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Obamacare website chief apologizes for poor rollout

The head of the agency in charge of the new health care law apologized Tuesday to people who've tried to use the flawed federal Obamacare website, but she said she still has faith that the site will be working for most Americans by the end of November. Published October 29, 2013

** FILE ** Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican, speaks in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Nov. 9, 2011. (Associated Press)

Obamacare gets grace period, but privacy still a concern

The federal Obamacare website has been blasted for technical problems, but Republicans say an even bigger problem may be lurking inside the computer system — weak protections of private information. Published October 28, 2013

In this Oct. 15, 2013, photo, Meg Poulelis, left, and other social media experts at the marketing agency FleishmanHillard monitor online chatter about the Affordable Care Act at a command center in Chicago. Poulelis leads the social media team for the Get Covered Illinois marketing campaign, which uses Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to convince young people to buy health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson)

Obama peddles inexpensive insurance options to wary youth

As website glitches raise fears that young, healthy people will not sign up for coverage under the new health care law, the Obama administration Monday reported that nearly half of single young adults seeking insurance could purchase a health plan for $50 or less per month. Published October 28, 2013

From left, Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal; Andrew Slavitt, group executive vice president for Optum/QSSI; Lynn Spellecy, corporate counsel for Equifax Workforce Solutions; and John Lau, program director for Serco, listen to questioning on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing with contractors that built the federal government's health care websites. The contractors responsible for building the troubled Healthcare.gov website say it was the government's responsibility _ not theirs _ to test it and make sure it worked. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

HealthCare.Gov developers tell Congress crucial tests were shirked

The Obama administration waited until the last minute to test the main Obamacare website and refused to ask for a delay when hiccups arose, government contractors testified to Congress on Thursday as they tried to explain why the rollout of the insurance exchanges has been so rocky. Published October 24, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican. (Associated Press)

GOP Rep. Fred Upton: Obamacare website should have been 'the easy part'

A top Republican lawmaker said Thursday that a federal website tied to Obamacare "should have been the easy part" and that is it time for contractors and officials to admit what they knew ahead of time about the glitches that are spoiling the rollout of President Obama's key legacy item. Published October 24, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that self-insuring religious employers will be exempted from a contraception coverage mandate. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. joined her Tuesday for the release of a health care fraud and abuse control program report. (Associated Press)

Obamacare contractors set to take heat for missteps, spread blame around

The lead contractor on the bug-riddled website tied to Obamacare is set to tell Congress that it takes some blame for problems with the system but that a government agency called many of the shots ahead of the site's Oct. 1 debut and another contractor's work created a "bottleneck" among users on the front end of enrollment. Published October 24, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat (Associated Press)

More Democrats push for delay in Obamacare mandate

More Democrats on Wednesday joined the bipartisan calls for President Obama to reconsider his health care law's individual mandate, and the administration shifted its own emphasis from a Feb. 15 sign-up deadline to an end-of-March deadline for when Americans must prove they have coverage under the individual mandate. Published October 23, 2013

** FILE ** Parkland Memorial Hospital financial counselor Kaneaka Guidry, back left, helps Cathleen and Jerry Brown sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act while Vyncent Bosh, front left, receives help from Tiffany Ruiz, Parkland Memorial Hospital financial counselor, front right, on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Ron Baselice)

White House won't rule out delay of Obamacare; buyers wait for website fix

The Obama administration remains committed to getting Obamacare up and running on time, but the White House this week left itself enough wiggle room if it decides it must delay the mandate that everyone have health insurance — a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act — if consumers continue to have problems signing up. Published October 22, 2013

President Barack Obama, standing with supporters of his health care law, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul. Obama acknowledged that the widespread problems with his health care law's rollout are unacceptable, as the administration scrambles to fix the cascade of computer issues. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

GOP: Did Obamacare site hide prices?

The House's top investigators want to know if the Obama administration made a political decision to get rid of an online tool that would have allowed uninsured Americans to comparison-shop among private health plans on the federal Obamacare website before registering for an account. Published October 22, 2013

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul. Obama acknowledged that the widespread problems with his health care law's rollout are unacceptable, as the administration scrambles to fix the cascade of computer issues. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Federal judge set to rule on Obamacare subsidies quandary

A federal judge will decide Tuesday on a case that could blow a major hole through the Obamacare exchanges when he rules on whether the government can dole out tax credits to Americans whose states declined to run their own Affordable Care Act insurance markets. Published October 21, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discusses the federal health care overhaul during a panel discussion at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Cincinnati. For the first month alone, the Obama administration projected that nearly a half-million people world sign up for the new health insurance markets, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press. But that was before the markets opened to a cascade of computer problems. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

'Best and brightest' will be brought in to fix Obamacare website bugs

The Obama administration said Sunday it is calling in the "best and brightest" tech experts to help fix the bug-laden federal website that's tarnished the rollout of the new health care law and galvanized the overhaul's fiercest critics in Congress. Published October 20, 2013