New Questions for Administration and its Contractors After Pre-Rollout Assurances of Functionality Fall Short, Consumer Frustration Continues to Mount
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent letters to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI) Chairman Tony Singh, and CGI President and CEO Michael Roach regarding the “glitches” that have defined the start of open enrollment in the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM). The administration and the companies that received contracts from HHS repeatedly assured the committee in advance of the system’s rollout that everything was “working the way it is supposed to” and “on track.” It has become evident over the past ten days that the FFM, managed by HHS, was not ready. The committee requests that the administration and the two contractors that were primarily responsible for building the FFM explain the testing that was conducted, the results of that testing, and what changes have been made since October 1.
“Despite the widespread belief that the administration was not ready for the health law’s October 1 launch, top officials and lead IT contractors looked us in the eye and assured us all systems were a go,” said Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Instead, here we are 10 days later, and delays and technical failures have reached epidemic proportions. After three and a half years, the law was clearly not ready for prime time, and the administration now has a competence problem. The American people deserve to know what caused this mess.”
The committee sent letters in August to six of the companies that received contracts from HHS to assist with the implementation of the health care law. On September 10, the Health Subcommittee held a hearing with representatives from these contractors, including QSSI and CGI. In the letter to QSSI Chairman Singh, the leaders write, “a representative from QSSI explained that QSSI was meeting delivery milestones on time and that the data services functionality planned for October 1 would be ready.” In the letter to CGI’s Roach, the leaders write, “CGI explained that the marketplace implementation had achieved ‘all’ of its key milestones and that CGI was confident individuals would be able to enroll on October 1.”
On September 19, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen testified at the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee that, “Consumers will be able to go online, they will be able to get a determination of what tax subsidies they are eligible for, they’ll be able to look at the plans that are available where they live, they will be able to see the premium next of subsidy that they would have to pay, and they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in coverage beginning October 1.”
In addition to seeking briefings with HHS, QSSI, and CGI no later than October 16, the committee requests from both QSSI and CGI all communications between the company and HHS “related to the status of your work or the functionality of the FFM between September 24, 2013 and today. This would include, but is not limited to, discussions or documents describing the problems that have occurred since the launch of the enrollment process on October 1, 2013.” Finally, the committee requests any analysis prepared by or for HHS, QSSI, and CGI regarding the functionality of the FFM.
Read the committee letters to HHS, QSSI, and CGI here.