Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
5 months ago

Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch

(CNN) - A newly disclosed report indicates that officials in the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services received warnings from a private consultant group that the federal online healthcare enrollment site could potentially fail to function properly for the October 1 launch date.

The analysis by McKinsey & Company was requested by the White House. It identified various problems with the exchange, including limited testing time and resources before the launch, and found that call-in centers wouldn't function properly if the website malfunctioned.

The Obama administration has come under fire for the botched October 1 launch of healthcare.gov. The site has been plagued with technical issues barring many enrollees from signing up for the federal exchange though the site. This report suggests problems were brought to the attention of key officials as early as March.

The administration has said the President didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website until after its fumbled rollout - even though insurance companies had been complaining and the site crashed during a pre-launch test run.

CNN received the report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a briefing at the HHS headquarters with these concerns on April 4, along with acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marilyn Tavenner and White House chief technology officer Todd Park. Park was also present at a briefing on March 28 at the CMS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Despite assurances from Secretary Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner, and Gary Cohen that ‘all was well’ and ‘on track’ with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, we now have documents dating back to April that call into question what they told us,” said Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania).

On Tuesday, a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the security of the federal healthcare website.

McKinsey's report says the group reviewed 200 documents and sources, interviewed about 40 people across a variety of federal agencies and participated in some meetings and work sessions. But the analysis did not include outside interviews with insurers or access computer code or programs.

The report also points to potential areas of risk that never became a significant issue - like the data hubs used by the state sites and the federal site, to verify applicants' income, citizenship and eligibility. Or prolonged call times, which have been brought down in the weeks following the launch.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • HHS • Kathleen Sebelius • Obama administration
soundoff (539 Responses)
  1. Caritas06

    First let me say that I am in favor of some form of national health insurance and initially supported this. I also thought President Obama would address jobs/the economy. But along with szinda I have become completely disillusioned with him, his Cabinet and administration and those Democrats like Nancy Pelosi who supported and still support, this...mess. It cost millions to build this website and will take millions to fix it? And the idea, along with the website , is not working on a national scale. The ACA has been divisive, not just along party lines but even within his own group of supporters by forcing religious groups (some of which initially supported ACA) and private employers to do things that, whether one agrees with them or not, are contrary to their consciences. Instead of respecting this or going to national health care, these groups are attacked in an area that has been a traditional American freedom.

    Time to scrap this law, website and start over - I wouldn't trust anything this group thinks up either.

    November 19, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  2. srcactus

    A great demonstration of Obama and the mind set that drive the man.

    November 19, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  3. Denise

    When it doubt, say Benghazi.......Maybe next we'll hear what Reverend Wright is up to these days......

    November 19, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  4. RIchard Long

    "HHS chief: President didn't know of Obamacare website woes beforehand" CNN 10/23/2013

    November 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. James in Canada

    Not obamas fault again? He didn't know again ? What does he know ? Who the heck is running the country . This clown is either never in the loop or had nothing to do with anything .

    November 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  6. mom

    let it go for god's sake. so what he knew the website sucked, so what. he assumed the people hired to do the job would get it right.

    November 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  7. coderjones

    a quarter billion a month in revenue and our representatives cant balance a budget
    and the press is worried about a freaking website

    as taxpayers – we deserve this

    November 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  8. Really?

    Ah the hits just keep on coming. Obama saying he did not know about the problems until it came out in the news. Now we see he knew all along once again.Obama constantly claims ignorance to everthing going on in his admin. At what pt do u people wake up and see u elected a guy that never ran anything in his life, never governed to the highest job in the land and u wonder why things are so messed up? At what pt is Obama responsible for anything?
    Obama's leadership style is to say whatever to get elected. They were also warned this law would lead to millions losing coverage. Thats why Sen. Repub. introduce a bill to make sure the 5+ millions that lost coverga would not. Every single Democrat voted against it. Now all of them are coming out saying oh we did not not know. Vote them all out!

    November 19, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  9. Une

    So he lied big deal. He has lied many times before stating with Jeremiah wright, college transcripts and all the way to the WH. So why stop now lying has served him well

    November 19, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. ryan

    Wow the President and his administration lied again. He is worse than NIXON!

    November 19, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  11. cj

    "What I meant to say..." seems to be his new mantra.

    November 19, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. Jim

    And now is when the American people stand up and...oh, no wait never mind he's a Democrat.

    Now is when the American people rationalize it away, pretend it's no big deal, and vote for even more Democrats in 2014. Explain to me again how our country is any good?

    November 19, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  13. Bill

    I think I remember this happening before, when did the President know about Watergate? They all lie

    November 19, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  14. Mike

    "I didn't know about the problems"....yet another LIE by Obummer....if his lips are moving...he is lying....

    November 19, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  15. Really?

    As Joe Wilson said when Obama first got elected, "You lie". It was true that Obama was being dishonest then. But Joe Wilson was put thru the ringer for it. Called a racists, etc. Now we see. Obama was lying then, and he is still lying now. No one held Obama's accountable for all the lies in the past. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, immigration, Stimulus, Dodd/Frank, Obamacare, Gitmo, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, wiretapping journalist, etc. It took u all this long to figure Obama has been lying all along saying whatever u wanted to hear. CNN and the media refused to hold him accountable. So why wouldn't he just keep doing it? People u deserve the govt u elect.

    November 19, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. IDONTKNOW

    It is going to be the biggest disaster USA ever see. You think they will call it off already. People brace yourselves for disaster because it is coming. I don't think they will ever be able to fix that because a poorly design project will fail no matter what. USA will surely goes down to its knees trying to fix this disaster with few of us working.

    November 19, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. gamalh

    Well I think the chickens are coming home to roost.

    November 19, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  18. John in NM

    He's out golfing all the time or campaigning, he hasn't got time for details.

    November 19, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  19. mike

    IMPEACH HIM!
    IMPEACH HIM!
    IMPEACH HIM!
    What are we waiting for folks, lets get this guy out of office already. He has proved time and time again that he doesn't belong. He has no respect for the country or the office which he holds.
    I am so serious about this I will do some research to see what it takes to get this guy out of office and see what I can do to make sure it happens if there is anything I can do.
    Who's with me?

    November 19, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. Obama lied, people died

    Obama lied, people died

    November 19, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. Government Waste Rules

    But but but I thought the White House said they didn't know anything until after the website was deployed?

    Could it be that the hopey, changey, transparent Obama administration was LYING to us???

    November 19, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  22. mike

    The White House...........i hear nothing.........i see nothing......i speak nothing........i know nothing. Now lets just talk about sports.

    November 19, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  23. danita

    This can't be true... Obama would never lie to the folks who worshiped him... They don't believe in God, but they do have faith in Obama...

    November 19, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  24. John

    Shows the arrogance AND stupidity of this White House

    November 19, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  25. Wulf

    Oh my! The latest crisis to get people to tune in! A massive website was launched with glitches! Never seen that before...in other breaking news – the sky is blue.

    November 19, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
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