Obama Administration Was Warned HealthCare.Gov Wasn’t Ready To Launch

A contractor tasked with building the Affordable Care Act site warned officials about a number of serious problems plaguing the exchange a month before launch.

President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 1, 2013. Reuters

The Obama administration was warned one month before the launch of HealthCare.gov that the website where millions are expected to sign up for health care plans was not ready to go live, despite the White House’s insistence to launch on Oct. 1.

According to a confidential document obtained by CNN, a private contractor tasked with building the Affordable Care Act site warned of a number of serious problems plaguing the exchange.

The document, submitted in response to a request by the House Oversight Committee, said the testing timeframes for the site were “not adequate to complete full functional, system, and integration testing activities” and described the impact of the problems as “significant.”

The report stated there was “not enough time in schedule to conduct adequate performance testing” and was given the highest priority. The contractor also warned, “we don’t have access to monitoring tools” and “hub services are intermittently unavailable,” meaning the “site’s not working sometimes.”

The news comes amid another outage at the federal healthcare site Tuesday evening — the second time in three days online enrollment has been halted.

“The Federal Data Services Hub is currently experiencing an outage,” a statement from the Conn. state exchange said about the Obamacare site.

The federal official who oversees the exchanges apologized publicly Tuesday for the troubled launch of the site, but insisted the issues are “fixable” and promised that the site would soon work as promised.

“I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should,” Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said. She declined to say how many Americans have successfully signed up for health plans on the site and acknowledged the administration expects the initial registrations “to be small.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday and plans to tell lawmakers that the contractors who built the site are at fault for its many problems.

“The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people and is not acceptable. We are committed to fixing these problems as soon as possible,” Sebelius plans to say, according to her prepared remarks.

“To build the Marketplace, CMS [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] used private sector contractors, just as it does to administer aspects of Medicare,” Sebelius says. “CMS has a track record of successfully overseeing the many contractors our programs depend on to function. Unfortunately, a subset of those contracts for HealthCare.gov have not met expectations.”

The Affordable Care Act website HealthCare.gov is seen. Reuters

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Jon Passantino is the Deputy News Director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jon Passantino at j.passantino@buzzfeed.com
 
 
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