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. Lisa P.

    BWHAHAHAHA

    John.8 [44] – abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

    Yep – sounds like Obama to me.
    November 19, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm
    --------------------------------–
    Really? To me it sounds more like the right wing echo chamber talking to itself, again.

    November 19, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Pastelaso29

    @Malory Archer
    The other difference between Katrina and ACA is that Bush didn't create Katrina. I haven't heard of a single person that has come through and said their premium for 2014 went down...NOT A SINGLE ONE... Obama said we would save $2500 per family per year...not only that was a lie, but premiums have even trippled. If someone's premium would be lower for 2014 it would have made news by now. Stop drinking the koolaid and face the truth..The "idea" of ACA is good, but in a real world does not work..it's too expensive which is opposite from "Affordable". Stop denying the facts and come down from the fantasy world you want to live in. The ACA was meant to fail so that we go in to a single payer system which is SOCIALISM... I know you'll love that.

    November 19, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Joe A

    Love how CNN is all over it! Everyhting but the disaster. Barely a word about the DOJ on Oct. 17 prior to the Big O's apology telling the Court, YES we know 90 million might lose their worker access to healthcare.

    November 19, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. Jerry

    This has been a fiasco since the very beginning. scrap it, cut OUR osses, and start work on something that will make a real change for all, not just a few..

    November 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. lawyerprof

    The amount of ignorance about the ACA is truly astonishing. FACT: The Republican governors in 26 states refused to set up state insurance exchanges. Those that did it right are working just fine. The others chose to fall back on a federal version (now known as Healthcare.gov) since they did not care to arm their own citizens with an affordable option if not covered through an employer or Medicare. FACT: The policies which insurance companies cancelled were junk policies and did not cover anything worthwhile. These junk policies have been around forever and have always been a ripoff. FACT: the vast majority of Americans are still covered by their employer-based insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Some employer-based coverage is also junk (with such things as $2500 deductibles) but because of the AA now has to cover much more. The QACA is a form of insurance company regulation, folks. Eventually it will help 30 Million Americans achieve genuine security for health care and keep them out of emergency rooms. Think about it before you use it as an excuse to bash the President.

    November 19, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. GD

    He has a laundry list of failures...never was qualified for the position, and never will be...

    ...but quite honestly, the fault lies on the ~52%-ish of people that voted for him. Think first, vote second...if you can't do the former, please refrain from the latter.

    November 19, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. ST

    Is this the American way of understanding things? Sticking who knew what and when it was known doesn't help anyone at all. What is important is to find the way how to solve the problem. If someone comes with the solution, thats what is important to report to people. Mmmh! people from outside the country who are watching what is going on, I bet are shaking their heads.

    November 19, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. IUGirl86

    Malory Archer,
    NBC news is reporting that a new security agreement with the US and Afghanistan will keep us and thousands of our military in Afghanistan for years to come, not to mention the cost in lives and dollars. NBC is such a conservative site, this can't be right! Our president promised to get our troops home, and he keeps his word. I'm going to lunch with my little straw man...

    November 19, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Lisa P.

    truth hurts but reality bites

    ....Single young males get the biggest shafting. Why any of these people voted for Obama, I do not know. They obviously voted against their best interest. Now, thanks to Obama, do they not have a job, they have to buy over priced healthcare insurance designed to pay for others healthcare, not theirs. They will also be paying for things they do not need or may never use...

    November 19, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm
    ---------------------------------

    Because no single young man ever got a woman pregnant, and even if he did (still not admitting anything here, though!) *he* shouldn't have to pay for her maternity care 'cause it's *her* care and the kid just happened, right?

    Also, old people never have grandkids, and childless people don't have any nieces or nephews.

    The level of denial is unbelievable.

    November 19, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Joe

    An administration run by socialists that have no real world experience in the priviate sector trying to implement a massive hybrid socialist program. What did you expect, success??? Not a chance in hell. This whole thing is bound to fail; and, unfortunately may take down the entire health care system and economy with it. What a bunch of morons. Due to human nature, socialism has always failed and will always fail; it is a great theory, but one that is totally unworkable and unsustainable.

    November 19, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    really, does this surprise anybody, democraps in action remember them folks in the 2014 elections .

    Vote straight democrap regardless and get the rewards you deserve

    November 19, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. shorething

    Obamacare and Success are two words that will always complete an oxymoron.

    November 19, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Guest

    And the NY Post is reporting proof that the unemployment numbers were cooked before the 2012 election.

    November 19, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Goodfellow

    I liked my "junk policy". The premiums were low, it covered preventative care, had a long list of providers, and it had a reasonable out-of-pocket maximum. It was exactly what I needed. It is nice that the President wants to put me into a better policy, but I think it would be nicer if he showed enough respect to allow me to make this decision on my own.

    November 19, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. liberal disease

    liberals your beloved messiah is done!

    November 19, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. Anthony

    From the L.A. Times:

    "Despite the disastrous rollout of the federal government's healthcare website, enrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law.

    A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials.

    'What we are seeing is incredible momentum,' said Peter Lee, director of Covered California, the nation's largest state insurance marketplace, which accounted for a third of all enrollments nationally in October. California — which enrolled about 31,000 people in health plans last month — nearly doubled that in the first two weeks of this month.

    Several other states, including Connecticut and Kentucky, are outpacing their enrollment estimates, even as states that depend on the federal website lag far behind. In Minnesota, enrollment in the second half of October ran at triple the rate of the first half, officials said. Washington state is also on track to easily exceed its October enrollment figure, officials said."

    The ACA is working in states that run their own websites. Once the federal website is fixed, Republicans are doomed.

    November 19, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Apul M'Deek-Aoud

    Too bad they off shored the development. That explains the problems.

    November 19, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. alex

    so as you sow so shall you reap. You voted for A'Bummer you got your wish

    November 19, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    carlin123

    It's NOT the governments job to make sure I have health care. The government shouldn't be telling me what to do. Just the opposite
    --------------------------------
    It is the government's job to protect innocent, responsible, hard working citizens who do have health care insurance from the added expense of supporting "health care shoplifters" like yourself. If that means forcing you to go buy it, then so be it.

    Besides, the government, at all levels, force you to buy things. Sometimes they force you buy expensive things: i.e.; like central air-conditioning for all new homes in many of the warmer states. They force you to go out to buy and wear clothes.

    Naturally, you could avoid buying any and all of this stuff if just simply lived in complete, self-sustaining isolation somewhere. You would have to grow your own food, practice your own medicine, and of course, never leave your property or compound. Because if you left it, there's always the chance you could wind up in a motor vehicle accident and wind up in an Emergency Room somewhere without and health insurance.

    November 19, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Lisa P.

    Joe

    An administration run by socialists that have no real world experience in the priviate sector trying to implement a massive hybrid socialist program. What did you expect, success??? Not a chance in hell. This whole thing is bound to fail; and, unfortunately may take down the entire health care system and economy with it. What a bunch of morons. Due to human nature, socialism has always failed and will always fail; it is a great theory, but one that is totally unworkable and unsustainable.
    November 19, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm
    ------------------------------–

    And of course any good socialist knows that private for-profit insurance companies are the bedrock foundation of any socialist system, as they are for the ACA. Karl Marx said so on the Rush Limbaugh show so it must be true.

    November 19, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. MSGT B

    Response to lawyerprof

    The amount of ignorance about the ACA is truly astonishing. FACT: The Republican governors in 26 states refused to set up state insurance exchanges. Those that did it right are working just fine. The others chose to fall back on a federal version (now known as Healthcare.gov) since they did not care to arm their own citizens with an affordable option if not covered through an employer or Medicare. FACT: The policies which insurance companies cancelled were junk policies and did not cover anything worthwhile. These junk policies have been around forever and have always been a ripoff. FACT: the vast majority of Americans are still covered by their employer-based insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Some employer-based coverage is also junk (with such things as $2500 deductibles) but because of the AA now has to cover much more. The QACA is a form of insurance company regulation, folks. Eventually it will help 30 Million Americans achieve genuine security for health care and keep them out of emergency rooms. Think about it before you use it as an excuse to bash the President.

    Your Facts are full of opinions.
    FACT: The Republican governors in 26 states refused to set up state insurance exchanges. Those that did it right are working just fine. ( Incomplete data to make this reference) The others chose to fall back on a federal version (now known as Healthcare.gov) since they did not care ( opinion) to arm their own citizens with an affordable option if not covered through an employer or Medicare.
    FACT: The policies which insurance companies cancelled were junk policies ( Opinion) and did not cover anything worthwhile (Opinion). These junk policies have been around forever and have always been a ripoff (opinion).
    FACT: the vast majority of Americans are still covered by their employer-based insurance ( For now- employer mandate delayed one year, estimate is that 30 million will be dumped), Medicare or Medicaid. Some employer-based coverage is also junk (opinion) (with such things as $2500 deductibles) (deductables are now 2x that amount) but because of the AA now has to cover much more.

    So before you call yourself a lawyer try to get your FACTS straight.

    November 19, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. critical thinking

    Unrelated to Obamacare but within the same context of misleading the American public.

    This news item is just hitting from CNBC, and get ready for the President to say; I knew nothing about this but you can be sure I will get to the bottom of it :

    "An employee in the Census Bureau, under pressure to make the required amount of interviews to formulate the monthly nonfarm payrolls report, allegedly fabricated interviews that consequently made the unemployment rate slide from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, according to the New York Post. That drop was highly consequential because it was the next-to-last reading on the jobs market before the November presidential election."

    November 19, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Refuse2giveup

    Obamacare NEEDED these people to be dropped from their private healthcare in order for them to be herded into the Obamacare system. Remember the administration saying it needed 7 million people in the system to make it work? Well, those 5 million who were dropped from their private healthcare were INTENDED to be part of that 7 million. This was explained on TV last week by Ezekiel Emamuell, one of the chief "architects" of Obamacare. He's the brother of Rahm Emanuel. The administration knew this from the start, yet continually lied to sell the program. Unforgivable.

    November 19, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. Mr. M

    The Mayor of Dallas has "declared" that anyone "allowed" into Dealey Plaza for the ceremony will "not be able to film anything."

    Come to Dallas, Americas own Tiananmen Square.

    Political free-speech is THE MOST protected right we have. If you are anywhere near Dallas and can make it, go.

    November 19, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. truth hurts but reality bites

    Lisa P.
    Because no single young man ever got a woman pregnant, and even if he did (still not admitting anything here, though!) *he* shouldn't have to pay for her maternity care 'cause it's *her* care and the kid just happened, right?
    -–
    So now Obamacare is a replacement for our court systems? This is a new one. Nice stretch, I mean ludicrous stretch. And it sounds like you paint all young men with the same brush. All of them must pay because a few do something wrong?

    Also, old people never have grandkids, and childless people don't have any nieces or nephews.
    --
    What does any of this have to do with anything? Why should I be paying for my nieces and nephews or yours?

    The level of denial is unbelievable.
    --
    Denial? Denial of what? That totally irrelevant rubbish should drive up the cost of my healthcare insurance?

    November 19, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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