Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
10 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. seanster77

    At this point who doesn't know this regime doesn't care about the truth or being honest? That was never an issue to Obama and his team of liberal democrats on their path to single payer socialization of American health care. All that mattered is "elections have consequences", but the funny thing is now it is negatively affecting liberals that voted for this group of liars. Getting what you voted for people.

    November 19, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. PeterD

    And why they keep saying that President Obama was not aware of this? Talk about his Laziness not to be in the loop for his signature ACA Law. My Goodness.

    November 19, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. HowCanYouBelieveAWordHeSaysAnymore

    "Classic Chicago-style politics. Just ram it down their throats." Yep. Later we'll find somebody's college friend or brother in law got a huge contract...but you'll find out pretty quick you got shafted. Did I mention our last two Illinois governors are in jail?

    November 19, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. VA123

    Democrats – You reasoning for getting insurance to the unisured was that we all werre already paying for it through higher premiums and taxes. I have a question for you:

    1.) When will I see a reduction in my premiums now that everyone is getting insurance – certainly not seeing it this year with increase in premium, deductibile and out of pocket maximums.
    2.) What tax will I see get reduced now that we no longer have to use those to pay for the uninsured?

    I am eagerly awaiting a response from anyone supporting this peice of legislation.

    BTW – Providing someone with insurance is not providing them with healthcare.

    November 19, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. Durundal

    Yes, because our president has every incentive to make the healthcare website hes been battling for not work....The 'testimony' was by people who never looked at code, and who frankly could have done a guess and check based on other website development projects (because they all have similar problems) and was bound to have at least one or two thing on the list stick. No, this reeks of opportunistic fabrication to suit the attack agenda

    November 19, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. frank

    another lie and another and another..... if you are a Dem you must be very disappointed and disgusted by now. shame on you for not thinking before voting for an incompetent socialist.

    November 19, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. Tom

    This story was on the front page of CNN for only a short time before it was pushed way down below other stories including Ex NFL player killed in Car Wreck. CNN! What could be more important and serious than our President and his administration intentionally misleading the public???

    November 19, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. mistamista

    Maybe it's just something that has become a sound bite that people ubiquitously use for anything that doesn't go EXACTLY as planned. Instead of four-letter-words, we'll just scream "WEBSITE!".

    November 19, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. guest2

    Its sad that 51 percent of the people couldn't see what was going on. It must be embarrassing to be a liberal today or to have voted for Obama today.

    November 19, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. Thomas Jefferson

    To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    – Thomas Jefferson

    November 19, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Bill

    If anyone thinks the president didn't know what was going on from day one, I've got some swamp land to sell you.

    November 19, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. American Citizen

    Let me guess. The President was on the golf course while the Administration's high priced consultants warned about the impending disaster known as Obamacare. Bring on 2014!

    November 19, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Andrew

    I find it hilarious that there are those saying that the Republican's are trying to derail healthcare and the ACA, when in fact the ACA and incompetence of the current administration is derailing it just fine, without any help from anyone.

    November 19, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. Bubba Ray

    As bad as the Dems are, it could be worse. Mitt Romney & the Koch brothers could be running things.

    November 19, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    This nation is going crazy with GOP garbage. ACA is a law. Why not we fix this computer glitch first. Lies? WMD, Iraq war, Afghanistan are the ones lies. Did you know it costs 18,000 dollars of stay for three hours Hospital Greed charges. For unneeded tests, EKG, blood work, x-Ray these greedy take for nothing? CNC hides, does not dare to publish these. Is this GOP garbage to bribe for CNN. Lord, help this color blind nation to No Education.

    November 19, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. kurtinco

    Will it ever end? The report this article references was 6 entire months before the implementation date. One would assume that government contractors who were not selected by the President, but rather by a stupid governmental process, who are getting paid millions would be abel to get their act together in 6 months time. This is a non-event, drummed up by republicans and fanned by the so-called media to keep this story alive.

    I want to see the report the White house received a month before the go-live date. Where is that report?

    November 19, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  17. Chad

    Once again, Obama lied. He has used the "I didnt know this was going on" excuse a lot: IRS Scandal, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, NSA and now Obamacare. If It was a lie this time, I wonder if it was a lie the other times?

    I'm guessing yes. Nixon resigned over much less.

    November 19, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Pride and arrogance is the downfall of too many 2nd term presidential administrations.

    November 19, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  19. Really?

    Um, wasnt the shutdown all about Obamacare? The horrible Repubs tried to stop and delay the individual mandate like what was done for employers ie 1%ers. Repubs we the ones portrayed as liars about Obamacare when they said millions would lose coverage, the numbers did not add up. It will be cost prohibitive for most etc. Repubs were demonized. Remember the derragement syndrome over the Tea Party and Ted Cruz. All of whom advocated for delay or a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Now u know they were telling the truth all along and it was Obama and the Dems lying all along. And with a willful media that help them get elected covering for the Dems and people too stupid to educate themselves on what is really going on, u don't have to wonder why it has gotten worse over the last 5+ years. Rich getting richer under a Democrat Admin while poverty rate increases and middle income decreases and no one says anything.
    America u said yes to Obama and the Dems so as Obama would say "Eat your peas!"

    November 19, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. Denise

    At least Rush will stay in business, making millions more, laughing all the way to the bank off of his stupid minnions. I wonder how many more right wing radio programs will pop up. Think of how many donuts and drugs (or wives to marry) he can get with all of that cash!

    November 19, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  21. Fred

    Would the stock holders of a major company put up with this kind of leadership from their CEO, so why should we citizens (and shareholders) of the United States put up with this from our President. In the real world the CEO would resign or be fired. Obama needs to take the path of Richard Nixon and do us all a favor.

    November 19, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. rodboy

    There are people still supporting that the P R E S did not know and did not L I E. Now here we are on C N N with the report, that as stated by people here was trumphed up by the Repubs – Most of those people hope and pray that the pres does not turn left or right quickly – it would break their neck.

    November 19, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  23. rad666

    White House
    White House
    White House

    No direct indication that Obama knew anything. Who is running the White House?

    November 19, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. critical thinking

    Lets see:

    If you like your insurance, you can keep it : LIE

    If you like your Doctor you can keep them : LIE

    The average annual savings for Health Insurance for each family will be $2,500 a year : LIE

    This plan will not add a single dime to the national deficit : LIE

    Mr. President did you know that the website was not ready and would not work?
    Obama: No one told me : You Judge; LIE or TRUTH ?

    November 19, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Eagle08432

    We're waiting. 4.....3....2......1. It's Bush's fault! Feel better libs?

    November 19, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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