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. james

    What difference does it make?

    The country will take anything Obama dishes out. The media will cover for him once again.

    November 19, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  2. Mr. Atkins

    Good to know he hired a firm to audit aca performance. Helps him prepare for backlash onslaught since he doesn't have illegal war to distract media's attn, i.e. the way GWB had both Iraq & Afghan. When unrolling Medicare part D.

    November 19, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  3. daveinjersey

    Obama bold faced lied again..and water is wet. He has only fooled Democrats and liberals, the rest of us Americans knew he was a dishonest, incompetent fool. But the lesson for Democrats is this: when you vote for a fool, you get a fool.

    November 19, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  4. Ryan

    Once again, the president "didn't know." A disgraceful president and administration.

    November 19, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  5. hkirwin

    ObamaCare is a massive disaster that will explode as soon as the employer mandate kicks in next year. Obama knows this and that is why the employer mandate was delayed until after the elections. I hope the brain dead in America wakes up before it is to late. The sad thing is that it maybe too late already, but at least we know who to blame. BTW, when is a lie not a lie? When it is told by a Democrat.

    November 19, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  6. Gilmore

    Obama is, undeniably, a liar. To lie about something of this magnitude is stunning. One can hope that this debacle does not plunge the recession into a depression.

    November 19, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  7. dnokc

    A tangled web indeed.

    November 19, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. yanks333

    ALL websites Fail and have technical issues including Facebook and Google. It's technology. Nothing is finished or perfect. This is why you need an ongoing team of highly trained engineers like Google and Facebook have, and expect things to break. You fix them. No big deal.

    This also says this report was not as thorough as it could have been.

    "The analysis did not include outside interviews with insurers or access computer code or programs."

    It's pretty bold to say they knew of problems without accessing the code or programs. People, like the media, bash what they don't understand. A custom website is not easy to design or maintain, and things break, just like a car breaks down without regular maintenance. But AGAIN you fix it, and move on.

    November 19, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  9. Kude

    Lies and mistakes. What else is new?

    November 19, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  10. ObamaTheCzar

    You mean the government lied?!?!

    November 19, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  11. hastim

    Ya gotta turn it on to see what's inside...Period....

    November 19, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  12. castaway

    Like Hillary says "What difference does it make at this point". When there is no accountability who cares!

    November 19, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  13. TimeforChange

    You mean the government lied?!?!

    November 19, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  14. Jerry

    Lies, lies and more lies on top of lies! Don't WE have the greatest president/administration in the world?!

    Oh well...

    November 19, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  15. Dave with a memory

    the Bush administration received warning of terrorists using hi-jacked planes to attack prior to 9-11. Are the Republican REALLY going to jump on this story???

    November 19, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  16. king

    nothing is perfect in life, and yes anything that goes out to the public has warning on it. have anyone ever seen a new pill lately, the warnings outnumbered the benefits. its crazy how these repubs propaganda machines can come up with the simplest craziest sound bite to douse the obamacare revolution. lesson folks if we allow the repubs to search from the rubbish heap of negativity surround this massive law. we will have to change our name from America to third world country name because it was too hard.

    November 19, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  17. bluesjordan

    Democrats have joined the GOP in opposing Obamacare and rightly so. Bill Clinton said "The president should keep his promises", but he won't simply because he doesn't have a clue.The Chicago Tribune, Obama's hometown newspaper, along with other major organizations who previously supported the president, are now calling for the repeal of Obamacare. "Mr. president", states one news source, "You lied".

    November 19, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  18. G_Edwards

    The true measure that this is a failure of an experiment by Pres Obama? He no longer refers to it as "Obamacare."

    .

    November 19, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  19. RomneyWho

    Looking for more gasoline to throw on the flames of the ACA, since it can't be repeal or defunded, let's just have a barn fire to get rid of all evidence of sabotage! That way, we can point the finger at the other guy and claim plausible denial. Remember, when you are pointing that one finger at someone, three of your fingers are pointing back at you and The Nile, is a river in Africa. I'm just saying? :(

    November 19, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  20. Name

    What did or does the President know about? With more and more failures we hear that he didn't know. Has anyone informed him about our debt? Have they explained how much 16 plus trillion is?

    November 19, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  21. ej

    Yet just another blame deflection. Why not just pick a lie and stick to it?

    November 19, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  22. dubrats

    fixing the website does nothing to help me, the middle class who will still not be able to afford a 10,000 deductable,out of pockets,co-pays,can't keep my doctor,lost our ins. because it does not cover being pregnant,when both of us on the policy are well into our 50's!!....still waiting for the media to actually address those little facts..........waiting.

    November 19, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  23. Joshua Farmer

    Who cares!???? If the website is fixed now, then why continually make such a big deal??

    November 19, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  24. bdby

    "This report suggests problems were brought to the attention of key officials as early as March."

    This begs the question: Why then are the people responsible that received these reports not fired as yet?
    I will tell you why, they are cronies (yes men/women) of the Obama administration. Government employees despite their very incompetents can never get fired when it is justified.

    November 19, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  25. TCinJ

    The government and a lot of the people are finding out that you cannot cover more people with better coverage for less money. For a subsidy to be given to someone it first must be taken from someone else. And even the subsidized are whining that it still costs too much!

    November 19, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
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