Under construction

Another month of fixes for health care website.
Associated Press
Oct 27, 2013

It should be working well by the end of November. That's the Obama administration's rough timetable for completing a long list of fixes to HealthCare.gov, the new, trouble-plagued website for uninsured Americans to get coverage.

Summarizing a week's worth of intensive diagnostics, the administration acknowledged Friday the site has dozens of complex problems and tapped a private company to oversee fixes.

Jeffrey Zients, a management consultant brought in by the White House to assess the extent of problems, told reporters his review found dozens of issues across the entire system. The site is made up of layers of components that are meant to interact in real time with consumers, government agencies and insurance company computers.

It will take a lot of work, but "HealthCare.gov is fixable," Zients declared.

The vast majority of the issues will be resolved by the end of November, he asserted, and there will be many fewer screen freezes. He stopped short of saying problems will completely vanish.

The troubles have been nightmarish for the White House, which had promoted enrollment to be as simple as making a purchase on Amazon.com. This week, President Barack Obama declared himself frustrated by the setbacks while still trumpeting the benefits of the health care law and encouraging consumers to apply by phone if the website proved a hindrance.

In his weekly radio and internet address Saturday, Obama vowed that "in the coming weeks, we are going to get it working as smoothly as it's supposed to." In the meantime, he encouraged the public to call 1-800-318-2596 or visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.

"We're only a few weeks into a six-month open enrollment period, and everyone who wants insurance through the marketplace will get it," he said.

As part of its effort to repair the system, the administration said it is promoting one of the website contractors, a subsidiary of the nation's largest health insurance company, to take on the role of "general contractor" shepherding the fixes.

Quality Software Services Inc. — owned by a unit of UnitedHealth Group— was responsible for two components of the government's online insurance system. One is the data hub, a linchpin that works relatively well, and the other is an accounts registration feature that initially froze and caused many problems.

HealthCare.gov was supposed to be the online portal for uninsured Americans to get coverage under Obama's health care law. Envisioned as the equivalent of Amazon.com for health insurance, it became a huge bottleneck immediately upon launch Oct. 1. The flop turned into an embarrassment for Obama and will likely end up as a case study of how government technology programs can go awry.

The briefing from Zients came a day after executives of QSSI and the other major contractor, CGI Federal, told Congress that the government didn't fully test the system and ordered up last-minute changes that contributed to logjams. Next week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify.

Visiting a community health center on Friday in Austin, Texas, Sebelius said that "in an ideal world there would have been a lot more testing" but added that her department had little flexibility to postpone the launch against the backdrop of Washington's unforgiving politics. House Republicans trying to defund the nation's health insurance program precipitated a government shutdown.

In the Republican address, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked whether the problems evident now foreshadowed future troubles with the health care law.

"In a few short months, families across the country will be subject to penalties under the law's individual mandate," he said. "How can the administration punish innocent Americans by forcing them to buy a product many cannot afford, from a system that does not work?

Zients gave some new details about the extent of the problems, but administration officials are still refusing to release any numbers on how many people have successfully enrolled. Although 700,000 have applied for coverage through the new online markets, it's believed only a fraction of that number actually managed to sign up. Before the website went live, an administration estimate projected nearly 500,000 people would sign up in October alone.

The marketplaces are the gateway to obtaining health insurance under the new health care law, which requires most Americans to have coverage by Jan. 1. Middle-class people who don't have insurance on the job can purchase a private plan with new tax credits to make the premiums more affordable. Low-income people will be steered to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that agree to extend the safety net program.

The federal government is running the insurance markets or taking the lead in 36 states. The rest were set up by states themselves.

Consumers have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage to take effect Jan. 1. Under the law, pre-existing medical conditions will no longer be a barrier. But the markets also need lots of young, healthy customers to keep premiums affordable. Open enrollment season extends until Mar. 31.

Zients said almost daily fixes are already having an impact. For example, more than 90 percent of users can now complete one of the first steps, creating an account.

But the application process, which involves submitting and verifying personal information and income details, remains "volatile," he said. At one point, as few as one-third of users were getting through that part.

Zients said there are two big categories of problems. Performance issues involve the speed and reliability of the website. Functional issues are bugs that keep the software from working as intended. Among the high-priority issues is that insurers are getting enrollments with incomplete, incorrect or duplicative information.

___

Online:

Obama's address: http://www.whitehouse.gov

Republican address: http://www.gop.gov

 

Comments

SamAdams

Even if the website is fixed, how will that:

1. Lower the high premiums? They're ridiculously high even for the WORST coverage (not the insurance companies' fault; Obamacare mandates all sorts of "free" inclusions and prohibits any rational upcharges for pre-existing conditions).

2. Secure the highly personal data? (James McAfee, the man behind one of the most popular anti-virus softwares out there, claims the databases are full of holes and rife for hackers -- I suspect he's understating the dangers.)

3. Make the IRS more efficient and trustworthy? (Why on earth did anybody think putting one of the most hated, most unreliable, most inefficient government entities in charge of everybody's healthcare was a good idea?)

4. Change the fact that Obamacare is unconstitutional on a variety of levels? (Suits are currently moving forward based on the fact that the federal exchange isn't following the rules set up within the ACA itself; other suits are poised for filing the moment somebody can claim damages, i.e. has to pay a fine/"tax" including, at least some which are based on the most basic of constitutional violations in that the legislation originated in the Senate, a real "no no" constitutionally speaking where tax generating measures are concerned.)

5. Eliminate "death panels?" (Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin was right about that accusation from day one.)

6. Convince doctors, hospitals, etc. to participate in plans where, just like the patients, they have to offer more to get less?

7. Convince young and healthy people who can afford the high premiums to sign up? (A minimum of seven million are needed to "redistribute" to those who will be getting more out of the system than they're putting into it, regardless of the high premiums. And right now, though the federal government is hiding everything it can, the supposed half million who HAVE signed up to date are almost all signing up for Medicaid/Medicare, none of which counts toward the premium "pool.")

Fixing the website is the LEAST of the myriad problems with Obamacare!

Darwin's choice

^^Agree^^ This farce is the end of the "darling" of Obama. Even the media can't unring the bell of blatant failure!

Contango

Re: "death panels?"

But, but didn't the Progressive-kleptocrat nut ball economist Paul Krugman help confirm Sarah Palin's conclusion?

"Death panels and sales taxes" for all!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t...

Whatstheproblem?

Under big govt. socialism, the time may come when your "right to die," is transformed into your "patriotic duty to die."

FORWARD SOVIET!

The Big Dog's back

I Thought rush was off on Sunday's? Oh wait a minute, reruns.

JudgeMeNot

Its good to know Rush gets under your skin.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Sam, you keep focusing on results and not intentions. There's your problem. You really need to shift your view to what people want the ACA to do instead of what it is doing. If you do that, your imagination will putty over the holes and you can sleep better. Hope that helps!

(Edit: this was sarcasm, I usually label it and didn't here so for consistency's sake here it is... Though you most likely knew.)

SamAdams

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I suffer from these fits of common sense that do little or nothing but confuse those who think good intentions excuse anything and everything, and frustrate the he11 out of me when they remain confused rather than convinced. My bad!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I hear you can get a health plan that covers preexisting common sense now. You can get that fixed up in no time if you can afford the premium, deductible, etc.

Stop It

ROTFLMFAO!!!!

(both of you)

good stuff...

The Big Dog's back

I see sappy (hz) and daffy (sa) are at it again.

Pterocarya frax...

Just so I understand this, let me get some clarification. I am supposed to be convinced by your 7 points? Really?

1. "ridiculously high" premiums? Can you provide a source for that info, because from most everything I have read, premiums have been quite attractive, except in some rural area where they haven't generated the competition...yet. "prohibits any rational upcharges for pre-existing conditions". Would you prefer that we go back to dropping customers for any reason, and lifetime caps?

2. You are taking the word of John (that is his name) McAfee? The same McAfee that that moved to Belize to study "herbal antibiotics"? The same McAfee that left Belize and hid in Guatemala to avoid prosecution for murdering his neighbor...the one that complained about his barking dogs? The same McAfee that faked a heart attack in Guatemala to avoid extradition back to Belize? The same McAfee that brags about his hundreds of teenage girl conquests? The same McAfee that told an interviewer he didn't use his own bloatware antivirus because it was "too annoying"? This is the guy Republicans wanted to hire to fix the website?:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

I will say this is even sillier than the time you used Ted Nugent as an example of an authority on common sense gun laws.

3-7. After the first 2, I gave up. Well that isn't exactly true. I couldn't help but notice 5. Death panels....really? Got a real news source for that? I mean, besides breitbart.com or Hannity?

Contango

Re: "premiums have been quite attractive,"

Why aren’t you signing up for Obam☭are?

What are the deductibles?

What are the provider lists?

Cheap seldom means the same or better.

Without the young and healthy suckers paying into the pool to compensate for the unhealthy, this boondoggle is DOOMED.

SamAdams

No problem! Happy to help.

1. The "ridiculously high premiums" source comes from — wait for it! — healthcare.gov. Coverage is terrible ($6,000+ deductible, 60% reimbursement), and the premiums are (per the Website, though now it's said those premiums stated are as much as HALF the actual cost) about $300 per month for a single insured (they go up from there, depending on the provider). Better plans (70% reimbursement, but still very high deductibles) obviously cost even more.

2. McAfee isn't entirely insane given that herbal antibiotics are well known and documented. As far as his legal troubles go, I can't argue that any of those things are good things. I DO wonder, though, how those issues have any bearing on whether or not the guy knows his computer vulnerabilities. And he does. But if you're unable to separate the two, other experts have said the same, and the Website itself says users have no expectation of privacy.

"Death panels" aren't called "death panels" on the pages of the ACA itself. No, they're called "commissions" and "committees" and the like. And what do they do? They determine if it's "cost effective" to provide treatment. Age, for example, can cause denials. Like Obama himself said when he was on the stump for the law, maybe it's better if Grandma just takes a pain pill! In other words, they decide who's "worth" treating, and who isn't, a.k.a. "death panels."

Citing Ted Nugent as an authority may strike YOU as amusing, but the truth is that the man has made it his business to educate himself rather thoroughly on gun safety and on gun laws. But if it makes you feel better, I'll cite people like John Lott and Gary Kleck in the future. You won't like them, either, but if you're a liberal, you have to agree with them (I think it's a progressive rule) since they're both academics.

The Big Dog's back

Cuckoo.

Contango

Obam☭are joke of the day:

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/d...

Stop It

ACA = fail on all accounts. Excellent and well stated post, Samantha.

Dr. Information

Whats another billion dollars right? I mean thats what they have collectively dumped into this website and still its botched as hell.

Dr. Information

"Don't worry, you can keep your Dr. and there will be no change to your current policy or who you see". Obama, pre ACA launch. Post ACA launch "Well, uh, you see, uh, I never meant for EVERYONE to be able to keep their Dr, uh, what you have to understand is, uh, uh, I mean lets look at it this way uh, if you are seeing a Dr, does it really matter who it is, uh, Michelle, can you help me here, uh"

Dr. Information

Another ACA website blunder. They don't give the person looking for insurance any idea just how good the plan they are looking at purchasing is. For example, Kaiser Permanente in California is ranked #7 nationally. Blue Shield in California is ranked #414. But on the Covered California website, consumers have no way of knowing that, because the state refused to post the ratings.

This has Nancy Pelosi all over it. Just have to buy it to find out whats in it?

Darwin's choice

http://investigations.nbcnews.co...

" The Obama admimistration knew full well three years ago that people would NOT be able to keep ANY of their current policys!!!!!!!!" Lying weasels!!