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

    Here's how it works. Award the contract to the low bidder, who hires the cheapest programmers available Then, of course, do not spend a dime on training them. While you are at it, put people who in charge who don't have a clue (but are buddies with the executives.) Then, have these programmers (who might be OK with time and training) work to a completely unrealistic schedule (schedule is money and remember, low bid wins). Then sit back and point fingers every which way when the inevitable occurs. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our procurement process.

    November 19, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. callmecrazy

    This is not an excuse for the failed rollout of the ACA website, but how is it when a democrat is in office there is actually a real investigation when the president messes up? When we go to war on lies and fail to bring in help during a hurricane or someone leaks the name of a cia operative the government, why wasn't anyone held accountable then?

    November 19, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. Joe

    Yawn,....CNN,...the "New" Fake News Network ! So much Drama,...not much real "News" ! Still trying to milk something for the $$$. The Web site failed,...so what,...it'll get fixed,...drama over. The ACA is a REGULATION,...not a Health Care policy. If you have a gripe about your Health Care Insurance,...complain to the Insurance Company that provides it.

    November 19, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Graeme from Ottawa

    Healthcare is 20% of your economy because you are being ripped off by private insurance. When will you learn that healthcare like policing like the military can be managed privately. Life and Death do not conform to a supply and demand model. The 5% of "plans" cancelled were not plans, therefore Obama did not lie, no plans were cancelled, fraud was eliminated. When is insurance not insurance? When it provides no assurance. lol

    November 19, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Joe

    BTW Mike,...Romney NEVER "looked good" and never will.

    November 19, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. asdfasdf

    did you know the fed gave 4.4 BILLION to states so they could develop their own web site? and some states just kept the $ and just relied on the fed site...while other states could not get theirs up and running. google it. this, I am sorry to say, is a disaster that just keeps on growing and you have not seen the worse yet if it even comes close to being implemented.

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. TheBigT

    This administration has done nothing but LIE to the American people ever since taking office.
    Time to impeach the President and ALL of Congress and start over.
    Maybe we'll find someone willing to fix the problems and not continue creating more.

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. FOR REAL

    Yup, daily I am reading how the health care plans that college students ussually buy to cover them in college has gone from $450 a semester to over $2,000.00 as a semester. Such a pitiful law. I understand that most need healthcare in this country. BUT, this was not the way to do it. This is a disaster.

    Suring the shutdown, Obama pledges that he will work with anyone as long as they re-open the government. The fabricated PARTIAL shutdown that was so grossly portrayed. Well, on Friday, the house passed a bill with 39 Democrats on board. What do they get, a resounding NO from the WH. In other words, "my way or the highway".

    Such a sorry state we are in. Both parties. "Spiriling down, to the hole in the ground, where we hide".

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. jinx9to88

    Big Deal!!! If Obama lied people lost insurance policies so efin what!! Bush Admin lied people lost their LIVES to WAR!!! Soldiers are still coming home in wooden boxes or with missing limbs!! The lies told are little different I would have to say!! You GOP trolls are crazy if you think Obama Admin is the worst!!

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  10. Dan

    Everyone knows they knew it wasn't going to work. Everyone knows, including them, that it won't work by Nov 30. Any real news ?

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. Name

    What a shocker!!!

    November 19, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. Mark

    Classic Chicago-style politics. Just ram it down their throats.

    November 19, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Joe

    Democrat Senator Max Baucus who wrote the law several month ago said the roll out would be a train wreck. He went public and it made headlines all over. They had to know. But they went ahead anyway. No excuse for this level of incompetence.

    November 19, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. health

    that's just awesome

    November 19, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. Really?

    You mean to tell me that Obama lied to us...again?

    November 19, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  16. Josh

    I'll take these mishaps any day over what the previous administration brought us

    November 19, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. jojo

    Another lie! Unbelievable.

    November 19, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  18. Veritas

    Shocked, I am shocked to learn that Obama lied about being warned about website problems.

    Sadly, of course, in reality we are all getting so used to this kind of deception that we just yawn...another day, another lie from Obama.

    That kind of apathy in the face of unethical leadership is what ruins democracies.

    November 19, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. jr

    This is a real disaster, worse yet, it appears they knowingly haven't been truthful with the American people.

    November 19, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. Daniel K.

    Obama and Obamacare are circling the drain.

    November 19, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. Keith

    I'm mad because I want to keep my junk insurance plan. Even though if I get an illness, my insurance will drop me. I'm for the insurance companies who actually cares for the people. Unlike Obama, who wants to destroy Amerikkka!

    November 19, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. You Can Keep Your Plan If You Want

    So, Ted Cruz was right after all. The ACA is a disaster but Obama keeps trying to push forward with it. Lets see how many Democrats go over the cliff with Obama over the ACA.

    November 19, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. bob

    "jinx9to88
    Big Deal!!! If Obama lied people lost insurance policies so efin what!! Bush Admin lied..."
    Really? thats your stance?? At best, way to punt on `hope and change`. At worst, what a pathetic and childish statement.

    November 19, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. nmdave

    Now is the time that we take back our country from the corruption in our government. This is a WAR! A WAR against lies, a WAR against unemployment, a WAR against BIG government control of healthcare, a WAR against declining education, a WAR against the corruption in our government agencies, a WAR against the debt that is growing out of control, a WAR against a lack of balanced budgets, and a WAR against the divisions created by the corrupt liberalism culture. We must unite and fight this WAR now, the 2014 elections are less than a year away. We must rally now and win this WAR!!!

    November 19, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. Sammy

    I support Obama and the AHC, but I cannot understand Obama not delaying the program if it didn't work. I still wonder if he knew what was going on. He should be firing a lot of his support staff if they knew and didn't tell him. This AHC was to important to fail. Obama needs to review his staff and administration and fired them.

    November 19, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
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