Obamacare Website Should Be Fixed by December

Image: Obamacare Website Should Be Fixed by December

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 12:46 PM

 

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Obamacare’s hobbled health-insurance exchange will be fixed by December, according to the management consultant asked to salvage the website. It’s the first time the administration has given a timeline for correcting the flaws.

The project’s management has been reorganized, with a lead contractor taking over for the site, Jeffrey Zients told reporters on a conference call today in his first public comments since President Barack Obama assigned him the job this week. The contractor wasn’t named and it wasn’t clear whether those previously in charge, including Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would remain as managers.

Obamacare: Massive New Rules Revealed for 2014

CMS had been acting as its own “system integrator,” coordinating the work of 55 contractors and supervising testing before the site went live Oct. 1. Since opening for business this month, the site has been plagued by technical problems, including delays, error messages and hang-ups that have prevented many customers from completing their enrollment.

The website, healthcare.gov, was intended as the main portal for millions of uninsured Americans in 36 states to gain coverage from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Ten Democratic senators led by Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called on the Obama administration to extend the health law’s first open-enrollment period, now scheduled to end March 31.

“As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans,” the senators wrote.

System Testing

Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Dianne Feinstein of California were also among those who signed the letter.

Zients, 46, now a health-care entrepreneur, was named in September to replace Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council starting in January, after serving the government in the past as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. He has agreed to take a detour to his new job by helping advise the Department of Health and Human Services on how to fix its website.

Units of CGI Group Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc., which designed healthcare.gov, told a congressional hearing yesterday that a branch of HHS was responsible for the end-to-end testing that they said should have been done months earlier.

Insurer Data

On the back end, health insurers have complained that information they receive from the government about their new customers is inaccurate or garbled.

Obamacare: Massive New Rules Revealed for 2014

Despite the problems, about 700,000 people had completed insurance applications since the beginning of the month, the government said yesterday. The figure includes health insurance exchanges in 14 states that are running their own websites and report fewer problems. The government hasn’t specified how many of the applications have come through the federal site.

Customers in states served by the federal exchange can apply by phone, where 17 government-run call centers have wait times measured in seconds, according to the government. They can also apply on paper using in-person assistance at community organizations and health clinics.


© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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