Cracks Showing in Administration’s Promise that Botched HealthCare.gov Would Be Functional November 30
Administration’s Failure to Fix HealthCare.gov and Rejection of Keep Your Health Plan Act Could Leave Millions Without Coverage
The Washington Post reports that another of the health law’s fast-approaching deadlines is likely to be missed, this time because, “Software problems with the federal online health insurance marketplace, especially in handling high volumes, are proving so stubborn that the system is unlikely to work fully by the end of the month as the White House has promised, according to an official with knowledge of the project.”
Just two weeks ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured the committee that the website would be ready by November 30, eight weeks after the botched launch, telling members she would make time to come back to the committee the first week of December. Likewise for months leading up to October 1, the administration repeatedly assured the committee that everything was “on track.” These new reports are a clear warning sign, raising questions about whether the November 30 re-launch could be as troubled as the October 1 launch.
Urgency is growing for the White House to fix the “debacle” it has created and forced onto the American people. To have health insurance on January 1, individuals must enroll by December 15 of this year. Millions of people across the country have had their health plans cancelled, despite the president’s promise. Rather than denouncing good faith efforts to address this broken promise, President Obama should embrace the opportunity to make good on last week’s apology and strongly support the Keep Your Health Plan Act.
November 13, 2013
Troubled HealthCare.gov Unlikely to Work Fully By End of November
Software problems with the federal online health insurance marketplace, especially in handling high volumes, are proving so stubborn that the system is unlikely to work fully by the end of the month as the White House has promised, according to an official with knowledge of the project.
The insurance exchange is balking when more than 20,000 to 30,000 people attempt to use it at the same time — about half its intended capacity, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal information. And CGI Federal, the main contractor that built the site, has succeeded in repairing only about six of every 10 of the defects it has addressed so far.
Government workers and technical contractors racing to repair the Web site have concluded, the official said, that the only way for large numbers of Americans to enroll in the health-care plans soon is by using other means so that the online system isn’t overburdened.
This inside view of the halting nature of HealthCare.gov repairs is emerging as the insurance industry is working behind the scenes on contingency plans, in case the site continues to have problems. And it calls into question the repeated assurances by the White House and other top officials that the insurance exchange will work smoothly for the vast majority of Americans by Nov. 30. Speaking in Dallas a week ago, President Obama said that the “Web site is already better than it was at the beginning of October, and by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to, all right?”
The need for what the official called a “divide-and-conquer strategy” for enrollment puts more emphasis on alternative methods for buying health plans. These methods include federal call centers and insurance companies that sell policies directly to customers — paths that are hobbled for now by some of the same technical problems affecting the federal Web site.
Julie Bataille, director of communications at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, said: “We are working 24/7 to make improvements so that by the end of the month the site is working smoothly for the vast majority of users. We are making progress, including fixes to reduce error rates and get the site moving faster.
“The challenges we are addressing today,” she added, “are a snapshot of November 12th, not November 30th.”
Meanwhile, pressure intensified Tuesday on the Obama administration to address the growing complaints of Americans whose individual insurance policies are being canceled because they do not comply with new government rules for coverage. The online magazine Ozy published a video interview with former president Bill Clinton saying that Obama must “honor the commitment” he made to Americans that they could keep their insurance — even if it requires a change in the law. …
Read the full article online here.