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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sebelius Repeatedly Said That Health Exchanges Were "On Track"

For months,HHS Secretary Sebelius repeatedly insisted that the health care exchanges were on track.

Kansas City Star, September 20:
Sebelius downplayed a Wall Street Journal report Friday that pricing glitches are being found in the federal system.
“Testing is being done,” Sebelius said. “We’re very much on track to be ready Oct. 1.”
She said any “bumps in the road” will be fixed by the opening date.
Austin American-Statesman, August 8:
Sebelius, who noted that she knew Perry when she served as governor of Kansas, responded to Perry’s criticism with a chuckle.
“First of all there is nothing that is delayed,” she said. “There is nothing that is not on track. I have, again, no idea what it is that he is anticipating in terms of costs to the state.”
Dallas Morning News, August 8:
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted Thursday that computer bugs won’t impede the roll-out of new state health insurance marketplaces on Oct. 1. She also rejected Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion that Americans grasp Obamacare “all too well” and are rejecting it.

Despite reports that information technology systems may not be fully ready to swap and protect applicants’ information with state Medicaid eligibility computers, Sebelius insisted her federal agency and its contractors are up to the job.
“I’m confident that we will be up and running, and on track, on Oct. 1,” when Americans can begin shopping in the online marketplaces that are being created for each state.
McClatchy News, June 24:
 “We will be ready on Oct. 1st,” Sebelius said Monday. “I’m confident we’re on track to get it done.”
The Hill, April 12:
The Health and Human Services Department will meet its central ObamaCare deadline and does not need a backup plan for delays, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday.
Sebelius told the House Ways and Means Committee that a federally run insurance exchange will be up and running by Oct. 1.
“No,” Sebelius said when asked whether there’s a backup plan in case that deadline slips. “We are determined and on track to meet the Oct. 1 deadline.”
But The New York Times reports:
In March, Henry Chao, the chief digital architect for the Obama administration’s new online insurance marketplace, told industry executives that he was deeply worried about the Web site’s debut. “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience,” he told them.
Two weeks after the rollout, few would say his hopes were realized.
For the past 12 days, a system costing more than $400 million and billed as a one-stop click-and-go hub for citizens seeking health insurance has thwarted the efforts of millions to simply log in. The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange.

“These are not glitches,” said an insurance executive who has participated in many conference calls on the federal exchange. Like many people interviewed for this article, the executive spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not wish to alienate the federal officials with whom he works. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our calls, people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’ ”
By early this year, people inside and outside the federal bureaucracy were raising red flags. “We foresee a train wreck,” an insurance executive working on information technology said in a February interview. “We don’t have the I.T. specifications. The level of angst in health plans is growing by leaps and bounds. The political people in the administration do not understand how far behind they are.”
The Washington Post reports:
The flawed enrollment reports illustrate that the site is bedeviled by problems that go beyond what the Obama administration has acknowledged in explaining the creaky performance of the exchange so far.
At the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, officials have portrayed the exchange as a victim of its own popularity, with a larger-than-expected crush of Americans rushing to a Web site that wasn’t built to accommodate so many people at once.
That explanation puts the focus up front — on the servers and software that help consumers take the first step of registering for an account. Evidence is emerging from the insurance industry and elsewhere, however, that the exchange also has flaws that show up further along in the process — as consumers try to check whether they qualify for federal subsidies and as insurers try to find out who has enrolled. 
Politico reports:
The glitch-plagued Obamacare rollout might be just the beginning: A series of potential technology problems could thwart the Obama administration’s goal of getting 7 million people enrolled in the new exchanges by the end of March.
Millions of people have already encountered error messages, delays, crashes and stuck accounts. Technology experts and Obamacare backers worry that each step ahead in the process — filling out applications, checking on subsidies and selecting a health insurance plan — creates a potential technology choke point. And that doesn’t even count any additional chaos when people try to use their new health insurance come January.