HHS Replacing Verizon With H-P for Obamacare Website

Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013 08:51 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The Department of Health and Human Services reportedly is replacing Verizon with Hewlett-Packard as its web-hosting provider for the dysfunctional federal health insurance marketplace.

The Verizon-operated data hub center has crashed multiple times over the past month, hobbling customers' efforts to sign up.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the switch to H-P had been in the works since the spring, when the government sought bids from competing providers for the same services.

The newspaper reported that the government awarded H-P's Enterprise Services group a $38 million contract over the summer.

But the change could mean even more delays for the problem-plagued website.

"It is a major exercise to move something like that," analyst Frank Gillett told The Journal. Depending on the complexity of the site, he said, "it is a minimum of weeks and more like months."

The Obama administration has set a Nov. 30 deadline for the HealthCare.gov website to be running smoothly.

The New York Times reported that the administration, however, is putting off a big marketing push in December over fears that a crush of new users could crash a still-fragile system.

The data center hosts key elements of the federal site, HealthCare.gov, as well as a digital juncture used to exchange information between HealthCare.gov, state-run exchanges, federal agencies, and insurers, the Journal explained.

HHS has awarded $55.4 million to Verizon for its work to support the health-law marketplaces since its contract began in 2011, including an award for $9.4 million worth of new website capacity this month, the Journal reported.

An HHS official told the Journal that the agency overseeing the marketplace "has begun the necessary activities to transition the data center over to H-P. We are working to ensure a smooth transition between the two contractors."

Earlier this month, federal officials reported that about 100,000 people had collectively enrolled in the state and federal exchanges as of Nov. 2, far short of the goal of 500,000 sign-ups for the first month.

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