Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
8 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. Ernie Boomer

    Another Obama lie, this guy is getting worse and worse

    November 19, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  2. Stephen

    You were warned about this clown and his gang of thieves.

    November 19, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  3. JOHN

    Even when the website gets fixed the problem with the ACA (Obamacare) is that most young people either A dont think it applies to them or B thinks its optional. They are not going to be signing up in the numbers that are needed to hold the costs steady for the rest of the insured. This will lead to costs going up not down. The cost of the ACA is going skyrocket becuase alot of people signing up will be subsidized or going onto medicade. This supposed fix to the healthcare system was poorly thought out and even in the best case this would not have brought down insurance rates since if everyone has to buy it all the insurance companies need to do is make sure they aren't too far apart from the other insurance companies prices. They might not collude but you won't see any of them slashing their prices to get new enrollees.

    November 19, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  4. PKK

    Lies, lies and more lies.

    Why should anyone believe anything that this administration tells us. According to Kathy Sebelius no one was more surprised than her and the President.

    Lies.

    November 19, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. Dumb-dee-dumb

    Really – I'm shocked! We have 3 more years of being "shocked".....

    November 19, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. cog in the wheel

    Yawn. Yes, the website didn't work properly at launch. Yes, it needs to work better. The launch was Oct 1, many weeks ago....this is no longer front page news.

    November 19, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. Josh

    How could he not know? He is the commander and chief, yet he acts like he's in the dark about everything. Sick of all this back and forth Democrat – Republican BS. PLEASE people fire everyone and get something new started in this country.

    November 19, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  8. HighlanderNH

    There is nothing difficult to understand about this issue. Politicians were warned by consultants and tech companies responsible for this project as far back as the Spring, that there would be significant problems with an Oct 1st launch date. A Project this size needs 6-12+ months of system-wide "end to end" testing. That never happened..so the results were always inevitable. The decision to launch the site Oct 1st was a political one...not one based on any sound technical common sense. Politicians do not make good Technical Project Managers..to say the least.

    November 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Greenspam

    Just received letter from car insurance company that my rate is going up 8% due to ACA...

    November 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. Volinlm

    With regard to Obamacare, the Republicans are old people complaining about a cruise...'the food is bad and there's not enough of it' !

    November 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Interesting "Ignore the facts and suffer the consequences. Just because you desperately want something to work just the way you want it to doesn't mean it will." writes William R. Hill...a website has problems and the administration is a bunch of lairs . But if those lies involve, say, Iraq and weapons of mass destruction the response is "support our troops or you are a traitor." The website is being fixed, all of those killed in Bush's mistake cannot be.

    November 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  12. Brian

    Lol so in the spring they were told of glitches.... I guess they were to assume the programmers were taking summer vacation and wouldn't be in until Labor Day or what

    November 19, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOREVER

    Yes, the website was a failure.

    But the overall healthcare bill itself was a mild success.

    Seriously, what do the republicans want?

    They don't want universal healthcare.

    They don't want obamacare.

    My only problem is it didn't control the costs.

    We simply can't go back to the previous system where wall street had their hands all over the system.

    November 19, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. andrew

    How are people surprised by this article. Of course they knew about the glitches, they know what color underwear youre wearing this morning.

    November 19, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. Tuan Nguyen

    Lies, lies lies just caught up with Pres Obama. He is not aware of anything that is going wrong with his adminstration: Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS scandals, DOJ scandals, ObamaScare debacle. Is this president in over his head....why do we even need him to lead the country if he is not aware of anything?? Is he still the smartest President in the US History, you liberals??? It was never his faults, it was either Bush or somebody else faults. Completely incompetence, inept and un-trust worthy !!!

    November 19, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. GasPredictor

    Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice politics.

    November 19, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Let's be fair about this. Don't be mad at Obama over this. He was probably asleep when this info came to light.

    November 19, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. McRCN

    Just one more lie, just one more nail in the coffin of ObamaCare.

    November 19, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  19. cesar madrigal

    We have always known he's a liar and fraud. what we don't know is whats around the corner

    November 19, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. dave

    It just shows how obsolete the government is, they have a Agriculture dept., but no Department of Technology, and no Department of Trade, at Cabinet level. We haven't been a agricultural economy for generations, we have no farmers, none to speak of. We do an enormous amount of trade, but no Department of Trade, at the Cabinet level. Even Congress is out of date, osolete, with no Congressmen with any significant knowledge of computer technology, almost completely ignorant of computers. Each Congressmen should be required to present a Master's Degree in Computer Technology before they are allowed to run for Office. A quiz should be administered to them in the campaigns, so people can know what they supposedly know about technology,. about trade, foreign policy, etc. The results of these quizzes should be in the paper, on the news, along with all Degrees, GPA's, along with police records. Even the media should be tested, and their credentials shown, along with their voting records.

    November 19, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  21. sonkarlay

    The heath care site will be fix but the only thing that will never be fixed in America is their hatred

    November 19, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  22. Danram

    Obama caught in yet another lie.

    "Hope & change", indeed.

    November 19, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. laodegan

    So he's a liar *and* he is incompetent. Obamacare is doomed.

    November 19, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  24. thtruth

    You are missing the BIG PITCHURE. This is not about getting affordable health insurance for the masses, this is about the masses paying for Obama Care to pay for the FOLKS who can not pay for health care "welfare". Don't you all get ??? He paying back the votes from the minority who elected him TWICE. What part of his agenda don't you get ???

    November 19, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  25. jinx9to88

    Finally one of Issa witch hunt might hold up!! LMAO! 1 out 10 is not bad.

    November 19, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
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