- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

House Speaker John A. Boehner predicted Wednesday that by the end of the month, more Americans will have lost their insurance by being kicked off existing health plans than the number who were able to sign up in the flawed online healthcare.gov website.

And the early numbers may back him up.

Kaiser Health News reported this week that hundreds of thousands of Americans have received notices from their insurers canceling their policies: 300,000 from Florida Blue and 160,000 from Kaiser Permanente in California.

One industry analyst told Kaiser Health News the moves may be a way of insurers ridding their own rolls of costly consumers they don’t want, and pushing those people onto the federal health exchanges.

“When you begin to look at these hundreds of thousands of people, I think what you’re going to see at the end of October are more Americans are going to lose their health insurance than are going to sign up at these exchanges,” the Ohio Republican told reporters.

The White House and the rest of the Obama administration continued to struggle with explaining why the rollout of the online federal portal to sign up for the health exchanges has performed so badly.

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On Tuesday, administration officials began to place blame for the failures.

Early Wednesday an official briefed House Democrats on the technological problems — earning protests from Republicans who wondered why they weren’t given the same briefing.

By late in the morning, Mr. Boehner’s staff announced that the Health and Human Services Department had agreed to brief the GOP.

The White House is pleading for patience as the administration tries to fix what it calls computer “glitches.”

But Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, said rather than a “tech surge” to try to fix the website, the administration should instead hit the pause button on the entire system. He said given how disastrous it’s proved so far, it’s not clear that the administration has the ability to be able to fix it in the short time frame it has set for itself.

He also said the administration repeatedly assured Congress it would be ready for the rollout of the exchanges, which he said has proved inaccurate.

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“Either they didn’t know what was going on in their own offices, or they were deliberately misleading us,” Mr. Murphy said.

The GOP said it was creating a website for Americans to share their stories of troubles as they’re trying to sign up for the health exchanges.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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