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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obamacare: The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned

Juliet Eilperin and Sandhya Somashekhar report at The Washington Post:
The Obama administration brought in a private consulting team to independently assess how the federal online health insurance enrollment system was developing, according to a newly disclosed document, and in late March received a clear warning that its Oct. 1 launch was fraught with risks.
The analysis by McKinsey & Co. foreshadowed many of the problems that have dogged since its rollout, including the facts that the call-in centers would not work properly if the online system was malfunctioning and that insufficient testing would make it difficult to fix problems after the launch.
The report was provided to The Washington Post by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Eilperin follows up: 
White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama was told in April about a review of's problems, but Carney declined to specify the details of the briefing.
In his November 14 press conference, however, the president said:
Okay, on the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great.

I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. So clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website. Even a week into it, the thinking was that these were some glitches that would be fixed with patches, as opposed to some broader systemic problems that took much longer to fix and we’re still working on them. 
National Journal reports:
A top technology official in the development of the Obamacare enrollment website said Tuesday that 30 to 40 percent of the online marketplace remains to be built.
Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, where he claimed responsibility for making sure the technology pieces of the site are in place.
According to Chao, repairs to are ongoing, and security testing of the site is being conducted daily and weekly. Yet a significant portion of the overall federal exchange system still needs to be built.
Asked by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., what portion of the enrollment site had yet to be created when the site launched Oct. 1, Chao said he did not have an exact percentage but that all functions prioritized for the lauch were completed and tested. However, now in the second month of implementation, a significant amount remains undeveloped.