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Obama administration hires fixer for Healthcare.gov

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Jeffrey Zients was called by President Barack Obama to help correct problems with the new federal health care website. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ AP PHOTO

"When a federal program that promised cash rebates to people who traded in their clunkers for more fuel-efficient vehicles was overrun by demand, President Barack Obama assigned Jeffrey Zients, his deputy budget director, to help eliminate the backlog.

 

"When the same thing happened with sign-ups for an updated version of the GI Bill, one designed to help the 9/11 generation of veterans get a college education, Obama again turned to Zients for help.

"Now, as Obama's health care website continues to be plagued by a rash of technical problems that have turned it into an administration embarrassment and a source of frustration for uninsured people trying to sign up for coverage that the law now requires many of them to have, who has Obama called for help? Zients, his Mr. Fix-it," reports the Associated Press. 

"Zients came out of a temporary retirement from the federal government and quietly dived into his new assignment on Monday.  

"Zients will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations to a Department of Health and Human Services team that officials say has been working around the clock to fix www.healthcare.gov since it went live Oct. 1. Administration officials, from Obama on down, had promoted the federal website as the first stop for uninsured people in 36 states who want to figure out what coverage they can afford. They are now urging people to also try signing up by telephone, mail or in person.

"Zients has led some of the country's top management firms, advising companies worldwide.

"In 2009, after far more drivers than anticipated signed up for the Cash for Clunkers program and the federal website set up to process rebates of up to $4,500 per new car kept crashing under the weight of the demand, Zients helped smooth things out.

"He played a similar role following the rocky rollout of a new GI Bill for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program had become so bogged down that the Veterans Affairs Department began to issue $3,000 advance checks to thousands of veterans who needed help paying expenses until their claims could be processed. At one point, Zients, Chopra and Vivek Kundra, then the chief technology officer, flew to a VA processing center in St. Louis to size up the problems.

"Before Zients joined the administration, he was chief executive officer and chairman of the Advisory Board Co., and chairman of the Corporate Executive Board. Zients also founded Portfolio Logic, an investment firm that focused on business and health care service companies." Read the story

 

 

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