Tom Howell Jr. | Stories - Washington Times
Skip to content

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 testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,. The massive failure at website is getting new criticism for lack of proper cybersecurity protections.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sebelius hits the road to defend Obamacare

Hoping to boost Obamacare's popularity despite its flawed rollout, President Obama's top health official will visit Atlanta on Friday to promote the health care law's benefits and meet with people who are educating Georgians about the reforms. Published November 7, 2013

Republican Ken Cuccinelli shows defeat as his wife, Teiro, right, looks on as he gives his concession speech in Richmond, Va.,  after losing the governor's race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown).

Tea party group slams GOP 'establishment' over Va. losses

A leading tea party group Thursday took on "the GOP establishment" for "abandoning a winnable race in a key swing state by withholding support" for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Published November 7, 2013

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2013 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sebelius is returning to Capitol Hill for a fresh interrogation on the health care law, this time from senators with growing concerns about President Barack Obama's crowning legislative achievement. Sebelius was due to face questions Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

Sebelius: Sorry, but we won't delay Obamacare

President Obama's top health official told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday she is responsible for the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare markets and that early enrollment numbers "are going to be very low," but ruled out delays to the law because sick Americans are relying on the reforms. Published November 6, 2013

Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner testifies Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about problems with the rollout of Obamacare. Committee Republicans have emphasized coverage cancellations and increased costs while raising questions about cybersecurity for (Associated Press)

Point person on Obamacare website assures senators on code, security

President Obama's point person in implementing the new health care law assured senators Tuesday that the federal Obamacare website is salvageable and secure, even as her agency acknowledged it had to fix software code after a man in North Carolina reported he stumbled upon another man's personal information. Published November 5, 2013

Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, greets Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, prior to her testimony before the committee on problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Obamacare official: Bugs can be fixed

Marilyn Tavenner, President Obama's point woman in implementing the new health care law, told Congress on Tuesday the new health care law is salvageable and that repairs to the federal Obamacare website will coincide with an expected rush of enrollees by early December, even as GOP lawmakers declare Obamacare a failure. Published November 5, 2013

** FILE ** Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Democrats kick off scrutiny of flawed health care law rollout

Sen. Tom Harkin said Tuesday that lawmakers should take a deep breath and realize the health care law may offer a lifeline to those who need it most, even if the website that links many Americans to coverage is in dire straits. Published November 5, 2013

President Barack Obama speaks at an Organizing for Action event in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A whole lotta ifs, ands or buts as excuses mount for Obamacare

The systemwide defects in Obamacare mounted Monday, from compounding enrollment problems to soaring insurance cancellations to breaches of privacy, as the Obama administration struggled to contain the political damage and repair its laughingstock health care website. Published November 4, 2013

** FILE ** Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear makes his victory speech during a election-night rally in Frankfort, Ky., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/John Flavell)

Kentucky Obamacare plan faces problems

Kentucky has been held up as one of the success stories of Obamacare, with its state-run exchanges running well and signing up thousands for health coverage. Published November 4, 2013

The main landing page of the website is pictured on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Department of Health and Human Services)

Obamacare enrollment by paper and phone is no better than website: report

Internal memos from the Obama administration suggest Obamacare's Web problems are holding up the entire enrollment process, including the phone and paper options that President Obama and top officials are pushing as an alternative to the troubled website, according to a report by ABC News. Published November 4, 2013

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Stressing that improvements are happening daily, the senior Obama official closest to the administration's malfunctioning health care website apologized Tuesday for problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Medicaid preference could strap states under Obamacare

House Republicans suspect the White House has more Obamacare data than it is letting on, sparking a tug of war that is playing out amid fears that Medicaid enrollment could far outpace requests for private insurance under President Obama's program. Published November 3, 2013

**FILE** House Ways and Means Committees Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican. (Associated Press)

Key Hill Republican demands Obamacare sign-up numbers now

The Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday demanded Obamacare enrollment figures from the Obama administration, citing reports that federal officials and contractors discussed the trickle of people gaining coverage under the law as early as Oct. 1, the first day the web-based insurance markets went live. Published November 1, 2013

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, Jeffrey Zients testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Barack Obama is calling Zients to help correct problems with the new federal health care website. The White House says Zients will assist a team that is said to be working around the clock on the site,  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Obamacare fix-it czar says website repair on track

Jeffrey Zients, the management expert and former top White House budget aide tapped by President Obama to help fix the federal Obamacare website, said Friday his repair team is still on track to have the online portal working smoothly for the "vast majority of users" by the end of this month. Published November 1, 2013

**FILE** Linda Lavoie, of West Bath, Maine, sings the Battle Hymn of the Republic during a rally to protest an upcoming federal mandate that most institutions and businesses provide insurance plans that cover artificial birth control on June 8, 2012, In Augusta, Maine. The guidelines from the Obama administration will go into effect in August. Opponents say requiring employers to provide those services through their health plans is a violation of religious freedom, despite promised exemptions and accommodations for religious institutions. (Associated Press)

D.C. appeals court backs challenge to Obamacare contraception mandate

A D.C.-based federal appeals court ruled Friday a mandate in the new health care law that requires two Catholic brothers in Ohio to insure birth control for their employees violates their religious freedoms — the latest in a string of legal opinions that are driving a controversial section of the Obamacare debate toward a hearing before the Supreme Court. Published November 1, 2013

**FILE** House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 15, 2013. (Associated Press)

House GOP: Only six signed up on Obamacare site on Day 1

The House's top investigator released Obamacare meeting notes late Thursday that suggest only six people were able to enroll in coverage through a federal web portal on its launch date, Oct. 1. Published November 1, 2013

** 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