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. Jennifer NY

    Twentypercent of the American economy. It is a coming economic disaster for our country, and for individuals and families. Repeal this monster now. Millions have lost their plans, doctors and others have seen their costs rise. Hospitals are facing economic disaster. Businesses are facing huge paperwork burdens to comply with this law. Never mind taking care of customers.

    November 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  2. Laughing

    Obama and Sebelius remind me of the Kevin Bacon character at the end of "Animal House" screaming "ALL IS WELL! ALL IS WELL"

    November 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  3. MaryM

    And Yet, Republican Congressmen are being elected in Louisiana that supported Obamacare. Google it

    November 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  4. jinx9to88

    Who told them this information? Don't tell me it was the same guy that CBS interviewed about Benghazi. LMAO! What a joke!!!

    November 19, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. The Brutal Truth

    Just like anyone with a brain has known for a long time now, Obama is a LIAR!!!

    November 19, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  6. Doug Lynn

    President Obama has never managed anything. He does not understand how a large IT project has to work. His campaign IT stuff worked because they did whatever they wanted, which totally different than trying to comply with over twenty thousand pages of law and incomplete regulations as the requirements.

    November 19, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Rob

    It gets better everyday. You could have told this narcissist President 3 years ago this would be a disaster and he would have ignored you. Oh wait, they did tell him 3 years ago this would be a disaster, and he ignored them.

    I am starting to wonder if Obama is being played by the American democratic politicians. I believe that every single person in the house and senate knew of this impending disaster and they pushed for it to go through anyways. Maybe the democrats wanted him to fail so they could bring in some one who could fix the problem in the next election. They know Americans were and are sick of the republicans, and we are very sick of Obama; they knew this... and they know who ever they put up next could not be as much of a disaster as Obama has been. There has to be come conspiracy here with the democrats. You can not tell me they were so stupid to support this law with out a reason.

    November 19, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. loyalright

    I cannot imagine three more years of this guy. When will the nightmare end?

    November 19, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  9. nuclear mike

    Dear Christmas retailers...expect nothing as our government is taking everything from us...

    November 19, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  10. Cory111

    The good news is it gives the Republicans something to do other then just sitting around looking for things to complain about.
    I thought they were all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Fact is if Obama gave them everything they wanted and just a bit more they would be complaining a bout the bit more.
    Hillary 2016

    November 19, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. chris

    Folks this is just the beginning. If this law was a cover up of mistakes, errors and lies what else will we discover down the line about what is covered and what is not, what medicines, procedures etc. Theres no way I'm signing up for a law which simply hasn't created a level of comfort that those running the show have any idea of what they are doing.

    November 19, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    Jennifer NY

    Twentypercent of the American economy.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Wow – that number gets higher everytime a tighty righty spouts that story. Just yesterday is was 1/6 of the economy, or 16 percent. Hyperbolic much?

    November 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  13. lobo

    Let me guess. Our pretend president did not hear any of this nonsense. Wish I knew what this guy does besides try to bury this country.

    November 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  14. davis

    The scandal isn't the website, it's that Obama blatently lied. While Bush was told by the CIA and UK intelligence that WMDs were in Iraq, Obama was specifically notified that this would fail and people would lose their ins..... yet he went out and told the US people differently. Bush is guilty of leaping before he looked, Obama is guilty of lying. And yes Obama's lie is going to cost just as much if not more than Bush's rush to judgement

    November 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  15. GSMITH

    President Obama is a serial liar. He lied to win an election, Unemployment numbers were fake, Obama Care is a fraud. I hope all those who voted for this disgusting human being are proud of yourself.

    November 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  16. Walter

    And yet with all this, the delusional libs are still squawking about a 100% government run single-payer system.

    November 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  17. Mike

    Ol' Mitt Romney's looking pretty good right about now. Liberals wanted universal healthcare, so instead of choosing a guy who's had a universal healthcare system successfully implimented, you chose Obama. Can this administration do anything right? This is embarassing.

    November 19, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  18. Faux Scandals

    Please, no more GOP Kangaroo courts.

    November 19, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  19. TheSadTruth

    If I had to guess, Obama felt he couldn't afford to let anything get in the way of moving forward. You can never be 100% certain the website will work until it's actually online and running. If the GOP wasnt' hanging off his throat every step of the way in his goal of trying to get healthcare for everyone then he could afford to take a bit more time. The President was like that SUV driver surrounded by motorcycles- he had to rush forward or risk being taken down by a bunch of obstructionists.

    November 19, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  20. J Robinson

    Bug free rollouts of large web-based systems are practically unheard of. Denial or ignoring knows issues is part of the process of deploying on schedule. Fixing afterwards is par for the course. Senior managers and project directors selectively ignore problems or are oblivious, and typically refuse to change implementation schedules regardless of consequences or complications. And these managers and directors don't have a country to run. This is all about pursuing another avenue of hate.

    November 19, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  21. Lou

    Oh my, another lie by the liar in chief. Shocking!

    November 19, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  22. Ellen

    So Obama definitely lied.

    November 19, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  23. David

    I wish the news media would stop calling what is wrong with the ACA website glitches. It lacks any basic functionality. Step 1 get a username and password., can't. The Welcome mat is broken. Then I tried the paper application, haven't heard a word back. Then I called, they people answering the phone were not trained to do anything. Then they want want name, address, and phone number to give to someone supposed to call back and does not. Tick tock, Tick tock!

    November 19, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  24. Eleanor Fitzgerald

    Is there anybody in America who wants to enroll in the ACA that does not know that the web site is flawed? We get that! Isn't it time to stop beating this story to death? How about a little coverage for other issues like the Trans Pacific Pact Agreement (TPP) that Obama wants Concress to vote on in December with only an up or down vote and no discussion. That agreement will probably send many more jobs overseas and weaken our ability to enforce protective environmental, health and safety restrictions in this country? There is too much silence and secrecy in the way this proposal is being moved along! Why? This does not inspire confidence in government!.

    November 19, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  25. rob

    Knew about issues before?

    Of course everyone knew before hand, except us.

    He should be removed from office –

    Liars on jobs are fired; he is not above the law, he is a citizen just like the rest of us.

    Any of the participants in the housing mortgage scandals years ago, who went to jail, stole less money. Barack Madoff stole from every citizen...

    Your Fired!!!!!!!!!!

    November 19, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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