Tags: Healthcare Reform | Henry Chao | Obamacare | website | fear

White House Feared Embarrassment of Obamacare Site Glitches

White House Feared Embarrassment of Obamacare Site Glitches
Henry Chao.

By    |   Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:05 PM

The White House feared that the main Obamacare website could end up being an embarrassment if Americans weren't able to access it after it was launched, the site's top technology officer said just days before HealthCare.gov went online.

In a Sept. 25 email chain obtained by Fox News, Henry Chao suggested that the Obama administration develop a more acceptable way to explain to Americans that HealthCare.gov was not working, in case it failed after its Oct. 1 launch.

Chao is deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency charged with building the Obamacare marketplace.

The explanation, he said, could keep the media from "just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional."

The previous day, Sept. 24, Chao met with White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner, Fox reports.

"When Todd Park and Marilyn was [sic] here yesterday one of the things Todd conveyed was this fear the WH has about hc.gov being unavailable," Chao said in the memo, referencing the meeting.

He said that Park "will come back again and ask on 9/30 because after knowing him for the past 3+ years I can tell when he will hang on to something for a long time."

"Todd does have a good point and I think we should have a more comprehensive answer as to how we will ensure high availability," Chao wrote.

He also included an attachment with the email showing an image of HealthCare.gov and saying: "The system is down at the moment. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Please try again later."

HealthCare.gov, which covers 36 states that do not have their own exchanges, has been plagued with technology and accessibility problems since Obamacare's individual mandate took effect Oct. 1.

The site has been shut down so workers could repair glitches — and embattled Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius got an embarrassing first-hand look at the site on Wednesday when it crashed in front of her on a visit to a Miami hospital.

In October, only 26,794 Americans signed up for private health plans through HealthCare.gov — 106,185 including those who used state-run exchanges — the White House said earlier this month. The administration's goal is 7 million people by March 31.

Meanwhile, a White House official told Fox that the "fear" Chao referred to in his emails concerned warnings that glitches were likely to occur during HealthCare.gov's launch, a common problem with the rollout of any major website.

But in this case, the glitches concerned high traffic volume, Fox reported.

That, the White House official said, was "a good indication that there's high demand for the product."

Related Stories:

Sebelius: Health Website a Work in Progress
Obamacare Fails to Attract Young People It Needs


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The White House feared that the main Obamacare website could end up being an embarrassment if Americans weren't able to access it after it was launched, the site's top technology officer said just days before HealthCare.gov went online.
Henry Chao,Obamacare,website,fear
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2013-05-20
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:05 PM
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