Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chao: 30%-40% of ACA Website's Back End Yet To Be Completed

The News is not Good, despite reassurances from Sebelius and Obama

Those parts of the system include accounting and payment systems such as the delivery of federal subsidies (Hattem [1], "RegWatch," The Hill, 11/19). According to Politico, many of the back-end systems Chao referenced were not scheduled to come online until December, when insurers would need to begin finalizing coverage that would start Jan. 1 (Meyers, Politico, 11/20).

Panel Cites Recent McKinsey Analysis, Criticizes Chao

When asked during the hearing about a recently released risk-assessment document from McKinsey, which stated that a number of federal officials were made aware of problems with HealthCare.gov in April, Chao said he was "aware that some document was being prepared" but he had not read it, The Hill's "RegWatch" reports (Hattem [2], "RegWatch," The Hill, 11/19).
Republican subcommittee members criticized Chao for not reading the document -- which was publicly released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- saying it proves at least some officials were aware of the website's problems well ahead of its launch (Jackson, USA Today, 11/19).
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) called on President Obama to fire those who were aware of potential problems with the website but did not make the issues known. He said, "This report says absolutely they knew, and they didn't tell the president."
Democrats sought to downplay the significance of the document, criticizing their Republican colleagues for not sharing the information before releasing it to the public just hours before the hearing (Hattem [2], "RegWatch," The Hill, 11/19).
In a letter, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee accused the GOP of selectively leaking documents "without appropriate context, without the benefit of witness testimony to provide additional information, and in this latest case, without providing Democratic members timely access" (USA Today, 11/19).

Obama Briefed on Website Problems

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday said that Obama was told about the problems identified by McKinsey but was assured that the issues were being addressed,

Sebelius Says Nov. 30 Not a 'Magic' Date

In related news, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday during appearances in Orlando and Miami said HHS' self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to have HealthCare.gov fixed is "not a magic go, no go date," AP/Yahoo! News reports.
Sebelius said, "We have some very specific things we know we need to complete by the 30th and that punch list is getting knocked out every week." However, she added, "We recognize that there will still be periodic spikes, glitches, whatever that people will experience" (Kennedy, AP/Yahoo News, 11/19). 

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