Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
1 year 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. j0eschm0e

    obama was all giddy over the idea of having another deep well (healthcare monetary resevoir in which everyone except politicians are obligated/mandated to contribute to) to plunder

    November 19, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  2. Logictox

    Of course this administration knew about all the problems even as they let the government shut down proceed rather than negotiate a delay. What they did to the economy is criminal.

    November 19, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  3. Suresh Chari

    Surprise! NOT..

    November 19, 2013 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  4. Just Sayin'

    Is there ANYTHING! that comes out of this administration that isn't tainted with ineptness, deceptions and outright lies? I just read an article on the New York Post stating that the Consensus Bureau 2012 Jobs Report (prior to the election) had, on many occasions, the numbers 'fudged' to make things appear rosier than they were. Not that anyone should be surprised at this revelation, but what is truly shocking are those who still defend this administration to the bitter end.

    Between Benghazi, the NSA, Fast n Furious, Obamacare, etc,. I have never witnessed such blatant 'untruths' which seem to continually fly over the heads of those who just won't admit that the thirst for political power has exceeded basic decency and a genuine desire to do what's right for America. Those who would turn a blind eye to what is going on and continue to 'tow' the party line should be ashamed of their ignorance.

    November 19, 2013 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.... Next thing we will discover is that the Obama Administration is lying about Unemployment Numbers.

    November 19, 2013 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  6. YADPOI

    Not to worry, Imam Obama will blame this on Bush! He is appsolutely incapable of accepting blame for any of his many failures!

    November 19, 2013 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  7. Josh

    Oh, look. More lies.

    November 19, 2013 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  8. ShingoEX

    Obamacare is failing, and it needs to end. Ironically, I cannot afford the "Affordable Care Act".

    November 19, 2013 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  9. JoeMama

    Believe these fools at your own risk. What an Obamanation.

    November 19, 2013 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  10. Bill Davis

    You have to sign it, you can read it later.

    November 19, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  11. Harleigh

    But the White House still spouts the big lie.

    November 19, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  12. Rob

    Our President isn't stupid like some want to believe. He is a liar, big fat liar. Do as I say, not as I do. I'm not only sick of him but most of the politicians in DC. They vote for their wallets, not the will of the American people. Please, please look at new democrats, republicans &/or 3rd party candidates. We have got to stop the out of control spending in Washington. AND lastly, don't think republicans are the only ones for Wall Street, our democrat politicians are for big government too! Why do you think insurance companies sit quietly while ACA was written. They will make major profits off of the new policies.

    November 19, 2013 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  13. Flash321

    The administration was warned that a new web site could fail?
    So what? Everyone who puts up a web site knows it can fail. Everyone knows that some rebuilds are necessary.
    Is that it?
    Is that the best the conservatives can do?
    FAIL.

    November 19, 2013 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  14. shane kelley

    How long will a buggy Federal website be front and center national news?

    November 19, 2013 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  15. anon

    Next up on the Obama agenda. Someone just got caught making up unemployment numbers to win an election. Oh yeah, there's a whistleblower with evidence.

    November 19, 2013 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  16. Rob

    And we are supposed to trust these people? Obama and his gang have lied non stop since 2009. Only a fool could support them or the ones that depend on Obama for their free checks

    November 19, 2013 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  17. tom

    everyone knows that this insurance is another way of big insurance companies ripping off the consumer. what better way for them to make even more money by making it a law that everyone has to have insurance. this deal was made a long time ago its to bad I had high hopes for Obama its sad too see he fell into the same old trap that Washington, does to people. its kinda like walmart does to their employees, its called brainwashing, oh yeah lets get together at 8.00 am and clap for the company, amen whats next mmmm lets see tax those cardboard boxes the homeless middleclass people and their families are living in. im for one sad American to see this is happening to our country.

    November 19, 2013 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  18. Dave

    I'm sorry Mr President. The hamster fell of it's wheel. The website is down again."

    November 19, 2013 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  19. Scott

    This keeps getting better and better. A President who claims he knows nothing (Benghazi, IRS, spying on foreign leaders, ACA rollout). I don't know which is worse a president how claims incompetence or is incompetent. Of course...he may not be telling the truth...

    November 19, 2013 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  20. saggyroy

    As a civil service business analyst and IT worker for over 17 years, the phrase "...limited testing time and resources.." does not surprise me. Also how many muckity mucks called the IT managers or staff directly and demanded something without going through the proper processes?

    November 19, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  21. FubarObama

    More lies from the administration

    November 19, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  22. Bill

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive!
    -Walter Scott

    November 19, 2013 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  23. CStrader

    Soundoff...really...on such a hot topic...cannot imagine why...not sure your servers could handle it...When you stop people from communicating with each other you stop progress in any form.

    November 19, 2013 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  24. TommytheT

    Can this administration ever tell the truth? Why any one would now believe one word they utter is beyond rational thinking.

    November 19, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  25. Al

    and yet we are expected to believe, yet once again, that President Obama knew nothing of the issue. before it became public news. You know there is an old saying "fool me once"...

    November 19, 2013 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
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