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Evidence of Obamacare rollout warnings mounts

Evidence of Obamacare rollout warnings mounts

It’s been another busy couple of days for news on the Obamacare rollout.  Chief among those is a report from the Washington Post that private consultants warned of risks before’s Oct. 1 launch:

The Obama administration brought in a private consulting team to independently assess how the federal online health insurance enrollment system was developing, according to a newly disclosed document, and in late March received a clear warning that its Oct. 1 launch was fraught with risks.

The analysis by McKinsey & Co. foreshadowed many of the problems that have dogged since its rollout, including the facts that the call-in centers would not work properly if the online system was malfunctioning and that insufficient testing would make it difficult to fix problems after the launch.

Among the issues noted in the report were the lack of a single point of decision making authority, as well as evolving requirements.  In a large scale technology project such as this, these are two factors that in combination can present real challenges when clear guidance on requirements and business rules would be of significant importance.  From the Washington Post:

The consulting firm suggested that some of the project’s troubles occurred because there was “no single empowered decision-making authority,” or person in charge, who could make changes or define what constituted success.

One industry source close to the project, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter frankly, said this lack of an overarching project leader complicated the system’s development because contractors received “absolutely conflicting direction between the various entities within CMS.”

According to the document, McKinsey & Co reviewed 200 documents, interviewed about 40 people across various CMS and HHS offices and federal partners, and participated in various meetings in order to prepare its assessment.  The firm did not review code or conduct external interviews.

The document also describes that the development and implementation process was not necessarily ideal.  Among other potential issues noted were the decision to launch at full volume, insufficient time and scope with respect to end to end testing, and a significant dependency on outside contractors.

While dependency on outside contractors would not necessarily always present a problem in itself – many government and private sector projects rely on similar arrangements – any lack of communication or clear coordination of all of those moving parts across contractor assignments could certainly have become an issue.

Other potential issues flagged in the document however, such as the possibility of long wait times at call centers, seem to have largely improved since the site’s initial launch.

Obamacare Rollout Round-up

Meanwhile, other Obamacare related stories are making the rounds today.

NPR dives into more detail on one of the slides in the aforementioned report, in an article titled This Slide Shows Why Wouldn’t Work At Launch.  It describes the differences in how the project was managed versus ideal circumstances.

In a hearing before a House panel, a top IT official on the project indicated that a portion of the payment system has still not yet been built, according to ABC News.

“, the online application, verification, determination, plan compare, getting enrolled, generating an enrollment transaction, that’s 100 percent there,” said Henry Chao, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project manager in charge of, told a House panel.

“There is the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems. They still need to” be built, Chao said.

The Obama administration has said more than 100,000 Americans “selected health plans” through a state or federal insurance exchange in October, but it’s unclear how many of those have made their first premium payment.  Health insurers do not consider a consumer enrolled in a health plan until a first payment is received.

Some notable thoughts and questions on that topic also over at HotAir.

And then there was the story about an Affordable Care Act supporter whose enrollment success story had been cited by Obama.  It turns out that her experience soured after a series of errors and issues left her, in reality, priced out of the market.  From CNN:

[Jessica] Sanford reiterated her frustration in a post to the Washington HealthPlanFinder’s Facebook page last Friday.

“Wow. You guys really screwed me over,” Sanford wrote. “Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance. I am so incredibly disappointed and saddened. You majorly screwed up.”

In the meantime, NBC News reports that left-leaning groups and Democracy for America are trying to rally progressives to step up and start fighting to save Obamacare.  A similar effort to try and rally supporters didn’t go very smoothly Monday evening, when an Organizing for Action website failed to work for some of those on the call, according to the NY Times.

(Featured image: CSPAN video; deputy CIO at CMS Henry Chao testifies before a House committee)


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Don’t they understand the problems are mechanical? That if every single American supported Obamacare it still wouldn’t work? I support my truck, but that doesn’t get the oil changed.

It is clear they seek only to save the Obama dream-scheme and couldn’t care less about the 5 million plus who’ve already lost their health insurance, nor the 90 million who are about to between now and Oct 2014.

    assemblerhead in reply to Henry Hawkins. | November 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    The back-end of the Obabmcare website will never work.

    The state exchanges that are supposedly ‘working’ are mailing paperwork. That is what the Obamacare website has already been reduced to. The insurance companies are having to hire lots of help to deal with the paperwork. CMS is having its call centre expanded to handle to new load of paperwork. Not by using the website, doing it the old fashion way.

    Even the alternative site uses the old fashioned ‘mailing the paperwork’ method.

    Quote : attributed to Unknown.

    “The bureaucracy is expanding to service the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

Conservative Beaner | November 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm

How will they fix the back end when they can’t get the front end working. How much more money will be spent, 500 million, a billion, two billion?

Incompetence and corruption, thy name is Obama.

    The company building it is a subsidiary of the Canadian company responsible for the Canadian Long Gun registry, which was repealed for costing too much and providing very little benefit.

    It was projected to have costed a few million, but ended up costing $2 billion, and was notably unhelpful in solving crimes.

    If that high-profile anecdotal track record is any indication, and we’ve spent $600 million so far, then I predict it’ll end up costing between $400-$700 billion before it ultimately gets scrapped as hopelessly useless.

    Just my 2.63 cents (adjusted for inflation).

I’m afraid this story, like all Obama scandals, is going to hit a dead-end at some point soon. For several reasons.

The media will simply not cross the investigative border from incompetence to criminality or conspiracy. They haven’t yet have with Obama and won’t now. Therefore, the endless litany of these stories will just get monotonous (or that’s how they’ll see them, necessarily — as repetitive and increasingly non-newsworthy). It’s been the same thing with every other scandal — the stories simply hit a wall. They stop becoming “news”. There will, for sure, be ongoing CYA updates, but the driving narrative force of the story will sputter and die. This is the media’s great power, they have it, and they will use it, and there’s nothing we can do about. Well, there is, but we won’t.

Likewise, this story is getting scary for the GOP, moving dangerously into actionable territory where they have no wish to venture. They haven’t the stomach to deal with the underlying reality of criminal conspiracy and are also, in their own way, invested in the effort to spare undue embarrassment to the government brand and the power and prestige of the presidency. The current GOP is made up of an entirely different collective psyche then the democrat party when Nixon was president, or under Bush, etc., and wants this story to go only so far and then stop. They will not assume the political risk and responsibility for making this a “federal case.” All they need and want from it is juice for the midterms, another chance to snooker the Tea Party, and that’s it.

Six months from now, the big new story (the media needs and craves the “new story”) will be the improving enrollee numbers for Obamacare. This initial stuff will be written off as “inauspicious beginnings” and “birthing pains”. Much of the country will continue to seethe and roil over the loss of their health insurance, but it won’t be a media story. They’ll just have to deal with it. Issa or whomever will raise his voice in carefully calibrated outrage, just to remind the base that they still care, but Obamacare will be grinding along, a fait accompli, and that will be that. The new normal. Bitch and moan all you want, but the establishment system as presently constituted simply both doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the figure of Barack Obama and doesn’t want to. So it won’t.

Beginning January 1, 2014 – a short 6 weeks away – a large number of Americans will have had their health insurance cancelled and will be left without any way to purchase new insurance (the pay-for section of the ACA website won’t be ready any earlier than late January). Through no fault of their own, they will be left without coverage.

Given that, a certain percentage of them will have the sorts of unforeseen medical issues typically seen all day, every day in the US: broken legs, heart attacks, car wreck injuries, aneurisms, etc. Since their lack of health insurance is absolutely no fault of their own, how can they be expected to pay their hospital bills? Who pays? The forced uninsured patient? The states where the cost was incurred? The federal government?

What’s the legal picture on this? Is the federal government legally responsible for these debts? (Not that they’d give a shit, in that they’d pay it with taxpayer money).

Conspiracy Theory Alert: Is that the plan? Purposely leave people uncovered and dilly dally while hospital bills grow and grow till patients and care providers are all screaming for money, ignored till even single-payer, the true goal, seems a cheaper viable ‘solution’?

BannedbytheGuardian | November 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I have tried to find an equal calamity in the modern age across western nations. & failed. Even the NHS had a better start than this. People were apparently happy in 1946 but then again they were happy to have onions again. Green ham & eggs were still a dream.

The world is going wtf?

Now it seems that Obama is trying to take his name out of his baby.
No more calling it obamacare:

Now, the phrase is vanishing from official use. White House website posts in July (“Obamacare in Three Words: Saving People Money”) and late September (“What Obamacare Means for You”) called the health care law the O-word. But now is almost entirely scrubbed of “Obamacare” and the law is called the Affordable Care Act in nearly every instance. Health insurance exchanges run by states don’t use the term Obamacare at all.

How ironic!!
Being such a narcissist, now it seems his name will forever be associated with failure.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Exiliado. | November 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    What a spectacle, eh? The president Obama trying to distance himself from the brand Obama. Or is the brand Obama distancing itself from the president Obama?

    He did show some leadership in the last week when he took the time to explain to Americans that he is not stupid. Can’t wait for this speech (which those old enough to remember Nixon in real time will appreciate):

    “The American people want to know if their president is a liar. Well, I am not a liar!”

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Exiliado. | November 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I saw it referred to as HindenburgCare . I like it.

Ms Sanford is such a dolt. She’s blaming the state of Washington b/c she can’t afford the premiums not from the states law but a federal law. The state just set up an exchange where Obama and his hacks wrote the laws and regulations. I bet she still supports Obama and would vote a 3rd time for him. Moonbat

James O’Keefe ‏@JamesOKeefeIII

Might want to cancel your plans tomorrow, @Sebelius. It’s going to be a busy day. @Project_Veritas

Undercover Video Shows Obamacare Navigators Urging Applicant to Lie, Defraud Taxpayers

People are quick to judge the Obamacare website as being a total failure, an electronic joke, a digital Edsel, etc… these computer websites are in their infancy, and small errors are likely to occur; it’s not like computers have been around for 10 or 15 years… now that would be a different thing altogether.

The primary issue is that they should have had one really good technical person with the authority to do whatever was needed to make this work, including telling sebellius to F off. The architecture was too complex and the approach unworkable.

NC Mountain Girl | November 20, 2013 at 8:29 am

The scandal isn’t going to go away. How many here remember the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1987? It was supposed to prevent seniors from becoming bankrupt due to huge medical bills for extended care nor covered by Medicare. It raised the Medicare premium and imposed an income surtax on the wealthiest retirees to subsidize those with lower incomes.

Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, the MCCA was also repealed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 1989. It seems the MCCA oversold the benefits in total, took away superior existing coverage for many retired union workers, increased overall costs and caused a tizzy among those who were to pay the subsidies.

Before it was overturned people were entertained by the image of a group of senior citizens chasing Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski out of their center and into a waiting limo, which they surrounded. There were allegations the limo driver threatened to hit the seniors, one of whom climbed onto the hood. Perhaps the funniest political parody I’ve ever seen was a video made for the local Press Club roast “Dangerous Dan’s Driving School” in which seniors in walkers were shown as human traffic cones.

Does anyone know if the bill allows Obama to delay the large employer mandate or give special waivers to his cronies?