Skip to comments.Former official: Admin refused to bring in outside help for ObamaCare website for fear GOP....
Posted on 10/18/2013 8:45:45 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.
Very important to understand: Between this and the fact that HHS deliberately hid the price of insurance behind a reg wall on Healthcare.gov to reduce rate shock, the grand takeaway about the websites failure is that O and his team made it much worse than it needed to be because they were terrified of transparency. And the reason they were terrified of transparency, both in the case of hiding the cost of the premiums from web users and hiding the sites architectural problems from contractors who might be hauled before Congress, is because they know theyve delivered a bad product. Put the premiums on the front page and the public, expecting affordable care, would recoil at the truth. Put the contractors at the witness table before Issas committee and the public, expecting that the government would fix health care, would recoil upon discovering that they cant even build a website with three years lead time.
I dont know whats more amazing, that theyd place their own political comfort above creating a smoother user experience for the uninsured or that they somehow didnt realize that a botched rollout on October 1 would be far more embarrassing than contractors talking to Republicans under oath. Or would it? What was HHS so worried that outside contractors would tell the GOP that they preferred to risk total chaos on the exchanges during launch month instead?
Apropos of nothing, Reuters is now reporting that the budget for the site exploded earlier this year as the Hopenchange brain trust realized they were way, way, way off course. And by exploded, I mean tripled:
How and why the system failed, and how long it will take to fix, remains unclear. But evidence of a last-minute surge in spending suggests the needs of the project were growing well beyond the initial expectations of the contractor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Why this went from a ceiling of $93.7 million to $292 million is hard to fathom, said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group that analyzes government contracting.
Something changed. It suggests they ran into problems and knew last spring that they couldnt do it for $93.7 million. They just blew through the original ceiling. Where was the contract oversight?
The Obama administration was issuing regulations and changing policy regarding how the reform should be implemented late into this summer. Many required significant changes to the IT running Healthcare.gov, which kept contractors scrambling.
Well need congressional hearings to find out which regulations forced the IT team to scramble at the eleventh hour to rework the site, but this could be another example of the White Houses desire to hide the uglier parts of this boondoggle creating problems for the website architecture. Remember, it was only this past summer that HHS suddenly decided to eliminate income verification for subsidies for the first year. Applicants will be placed on the honor system in reporting their wages, which is basically an invitation to commit fraud but which serves the end of making those subsidies nice and robust for anyone willing to lie, which encourages enrollment. Could be that they built the site with the income verification tech integrated and then had to tear it out quickly and haphazardly once HHS changed its mind, leading to bugs. Like I say, this is what congressional hearings are for.
Nancy Pelosi, by the way, thinks theres no reason at all to delay ObamaCare if the exchanges are still a disaster come December, which also happens to be the deadline for enrollment if you want your coverage to begin in January. Id be surprised if theres a single manager anywhere in the insurance industry who agrees with her, given the Thunderdome-levels of chaos Glitchapalooza will be causing them next year if this persists much longer.
Update: Merry Christmas, Barack.
The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system, technology experts told USA TODAY
Recent changes have made the exchanges easier to use, but they still require clearing the computers cache several times, stopping a pop-up blocker, talking to people via Web chat who suggest waiting until the server is not busy, opening links in new windows and clicking on every available possibility on a page in the hopes of not receiving an error message. With those changes, it took one hour to navigate the HealthCare.gov enrollment process Wednesday.
Those steps shouldnt be necessary, experts said.
I have never seen a website in the last five years require you to delete the cache in an effort to resolve errors, said Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a health care group by former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt. This is a very early Web 1.0 type of fix.
Youll have to read the rest to find out how clearing your cache might actually cause new errors.
Update: Icing on the cake from health-industry consultant Bob Laszewski, who says the systems scarcely improved after another week of frantic HHS triage:
At the end of week two of the Obamacare launch, health plans were generally seeing no more enrollments per day then they saw in the first week.
As troubling, the backroom issues plaguing the connection between health insurers and the federal government had not been resolved and there is no indication from the feds when they will have these things cleared up.
My sense is that the feds, based upon the number of enrollments they have sent to the insurance companies, enrolled about 10,000 people in the first week (about 5,000 single and family contracts) and another 10,000 people in the second week in the 36 states using the federal exchange.
I guesstimated that the feds were up to 95,000 or so enrollments in my earlier post, less than 20 percent of HHSs target for October. Laszewski thinks even that number is wildly optimistic. If hes right and theyre only at 20,000 enrollments total, theyre at less than five percent of their goal.
Update: No ones getting fired, huh?
The root cause of the problems was a pivotal decision by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials to act as systems integrator, the central coordinator for the entire program. Usually this role is reserved for the prime information technology contractor.
As a result, full testing of the site was delayed until four to six days before the fateful Oct. 1 launch of the health care exchanges, the individual said
Normally a system this size would need 4-6 months of testing and performance tuning, not 4-6 days, the individual said.
The source said there were ever-changing, conflicting and exceedingly late project directions. The actual system requirements for Oct. 1 were changing up until the week before, the individual said.
How could they have done a worse job?
why isn’t everyone screaming because we hired a Canadian firm to develop the software.....
I cannot wait for this thing to just fall apart. To think we got so worked up over something that was such a disaster, it wouldn’t even function anyway. This antichrist legislation was still-born.
So much for Obama’s legacy.
I had a discussion with someone that Obama might have wanted the shutdown for the first few weeks of the site roll out so that the Obamacare enrollment problems could be blamed on the shutdown.
There will be billions spent over the next years to get this fiasco working.
In the early days of the Data Processing Industry there were some Classic busts of major companies spending years and going thru enormous money and manpower to get much simpler database applications working.
From those efforts ...cam the efforts to condense time to meet deadlines by throwing 9 men at a project that represented 9 man months to finish....thus theoretically gating it done in one month.
>Professional Project Managers Know this little scheme WELL by ignorant top level executives.(Politicians would be even less understanding)
I am a bit skeptical about parts of this story. I think the reason the website is failing is that they either hired a company that can’t do the job, or they put specifications on the website that made it impossible to program.
so even this is the Republicans fault.
This is gold.
Thanks so much, Ernest_at_the_Beach!
On Fox Special Report. Juan Williams tried to blame the failures on lack of MONEY from the Republican House.
I don't think you could deliberately plan to do something this bad, unless you had someone take an early source code bundle out of the source code control, build it, and release it.
THAT my Friend WAS the point!
This is a FUBAR so we have to fix it with single payer
No offense, but it’s not Rocket Science if you comprehend the Evil.
Hard to do, but so true, Sorry if reality is hitting us all in the face!
CGI, a Canadian firm, was the contractor - the SAME contractor that the Canadian government FIRED in 2012 for delivering an unusable healthcare platform, waay LATE, AND overbudget ...
When it fails, and it will, it’s designed to, we won’t be going back to the old system. we will be going to single payer.
They also stole an open source, limited database to drive it.
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