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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

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 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

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Kansas Republican, said he doubts President Obama will show flexibility on the immigration policy reform issue. "If the president says he doesn't want border security, that kills the issue." Immigration may become the next battleground.

GOP skeptical Obama will negotiate on immigration

Now that a temporary solution to the partial government shutdown and debt limit are at hand, President Obama says immigration is next, but House Republicans said that's not likely. Published October 16, 2013

**FILE** President Obama, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control on Feb. 10, 2012, at the White House. (Associated Press)

Obama backs Sebelius despite Obamacare website glitches

Two weeks into the federal government's disastrous launch of Obamacare's online marketplaces, the White House said Tuesday that President Obama still supports beleaguered Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in spite of calls for her resignation. Published October 15, 2013

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (center, at microphones), stands in front of fire-damaged 433 Hawthorne Ave., next to the place he calls home (left), as he talks about rescuing a neighbor. A report on a conservative website that he doesn't actually live there has his Republican challenger for the U.S. Senate asking him to come clean on where he lives. The special election is Wednesday. (Associated Press photographs)

GOP rival for Senate in N.J. challenges Booker's residency

Republican Steven Lonegan said Monday that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his rival in the New Jersey Senate race, should come clean about where he lives following a news report that raised questions about where the Democrat calls home. Published October 14, 2013