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

    I I just saw the president's statement this morning that he would not have launched the site if knew there were problems with it.
    Yet another lie from our trustworthy administration...

    November 19, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  2. Kg

    Glad to see CNN and other mainstream media/ press corp FINALLY doing their jobs instead of giving this President another pass. Then again, I noticed The Washington Post reported on this story first. Nonetheless, seems everyone understands this story is not going away and will only get bigger as this cluster is exposed in the full light of day. How much more evidence do we need to see what a threat this President and his administration is to America?

    November 19, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  3. Namedave

    Sheep drowning in their own kool aid. Love it

    November 19, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  4. HK1984

    Hmmm... Anybody figure out the point of the article?

    November 19, 2013 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Is anyone really all that surprised?

    November 19, 2013 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  6. GoFigure

    The lies and cover ups never end with this "transparent" administration. I also just read the unemployment numbers right before his reelection were faked by the Labor Dept.

    November 19, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  7. larry kouns

    well, the administration received numerous real time warnings about Benghazi and sat back while Americans were killed. why should we expect anyone there to get off their soon to be impeached backsides and do something about this?

    November 19, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  8. Guest

    I'm sure this is all somehow related to Republican obstructionism..

    Guys, the government proves time and again that it is *horrible* at running programs like this. Everything they touch turns to crap. I really don't understand where all this faith that government is capable of delivering national-level solutions to problems like this comes from.

    November 19, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  9. NoCommentCNN

    So the cover up continues. The American people deserve better than Democrats and Republicans.

    November 19, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  10. JC

    Better come clean or this administration is over. Painful as that might be. This is why I don't lie....just keeps taking on a life of its own....and I'm not smart enough

    November 19, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  11. Stephen

    "ACA Website not working as planned" This headline was news two weeks ago. Was there any massive cover up? No. Has anyone benefited from this in a criminal way? No. So get on with your lives. The site will be fixed and people will continue to use it. I've heard of slow news cycles, but this is just plain silly.

    November 19, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  12. Tim Stubble

    Do you REALLY!?!?!?! think the administration was in the dark till Oct 1st.....LOL....
    If this was a buisiness criminal charges would be forthcomming..

    November 19, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  13. Frank

    Which proves he is "Deliberately" causing chaos in our country. It proves without a shadow of a doubt his intentions of creating chaos and destruction to our nation for his own agenda. I shutter to imagine what this man's true agenda is. He is a disaster and a real "DANGER" to each and every one of us.

    November 19, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  14. Truth

    Teflon Barack....he shifts blame and takes no responsibility – actually, exactly the opposite traits of a good leader.

    November 19, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  15. Steven

    Like you've known and refused to believe for years now

    Obama is a Blatant Liar !!!

    November 19, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  16. rob

    when Obama had Bin Laden killed, it was I ordered, I called, I directed....when the Obama care website failed, it was WE, THEY, THEM.........doing what a democrat does well, takes praise, deflects blame.... When is he going to man up and start being a leader instead of a patsy!!!

    November 19, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. well,by golly

    we have no knowledge of any warning....honest...

    November 19, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  18. Herman

    Obama = epitome of incompetence.

    November 19, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  19. abob

    As an IT professional of over 25 years, this doesn't surprise me. The gap between IT people and the people they report to is often huge. Considering the high level of this project, it won't surprise me if it was a case of IT people being afraid to speak "truth to power" or just being too confident.

    November 19, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  20. Grace

    He sure has egg on his face now. I don't trust him. Seems like he had his own agenda.

    November 19, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  21. LarryT

    This fly's in the face of what we were told by the administration. According to CNN and the Whitehouse, The whitehouse or more specifically Barrack Obama knew nothing about the problems until it happened. Our government and it's party just continue to lie. If the President didn't know about this, then what and the hell does he do all day. We are ruled by incompetent, dishonest, corrupt and lazy wannabes. Hurry up 2014, I have voters remorse and I can't wait to get to the polls.

    November 19, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  22. Dan1959

    Impossible, Mr. Obama says he knew nothing. This would imply that he is lying. I just don't believe it.

    November 19, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  23. ThisnThat

    1) Lead, (2) follow, or (3) get out of the way.

    Obama can't even get out of the way.

    November 19, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  24. GrandPaTx

    In today's America there are "givers" and there are "takers". The takers are the left who say "What can the govt do for me; what can they give me?" The givers are those who say "Govt, get out of the way and let me take care of myself." The difference is called "personal responsibility".

    Obamacare is designed to support the takers at the expense of the givers. Obamacare will eventually collapse under its own weight. Socialism always does. In the mean time, how many people are going to lose their current insurance? Wait until the employer mandate kicks in.

    November 19, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  25. Jschmidt

    Continual lies and deceit from Obama and the democrats. Nypost reports the census figures from sept 2012 were fabricated to show an unemployment drop. How many lies does it take?

    November 19, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
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