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. Gurgyl

    Now Fix them. Enough of it. It can be fixed. Use the best programmers.

    November 19, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  2. Name

    Easy to explain. Obama has been lying to us the whole time. His goal is not affordable care, his goal is to bankrupt the whole system and eliminate the middle class.

    November 19, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  3. carlos

    Of course they new. Breaking the system completely was the plan all along. You have to totally break the system first in order to get the sheep to agree with letting the govt. completely take over and provide truly socialized medicine. What could possibly go wrong? After healthcare, the rest of the economy and property rights is next. (Actually, that has already started too.) After all, everything worked out just fine for the USSR, didn't it?

    November 19, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  4. BOB

    Most of the country is concerned about the progress made to correct the existing issues to ACA. Only the salivating knuckle draggers are focused on every little detail to point blame for why it's a problem. CNN, you've become nothing less than a tabloid.

    November 19, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  5. Forrest

    I think it's clear that President Obama has no respect for the American People. He would not continuing insulting the intelligence of the nation with these continuous lies if he had one shred of respect for the People.. I think it's time that the American People show President Obama just how employers hold poor performing employees accountable for their substandard performance; something the President is yet to do himself. Impeach!

    November 19, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  6. Charles

    A president you lies about the most sacred of promises ... about your healthcare, keeping your doctor and keeping your insurance ... would have no problem lying about a website.

    November 19, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  7. zelskid

    How can we fix this mess?

    November 19, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  8. Bill Smells

    This isn't a surprise. Obama is the Liar in Chief. He thinks he's covered in teflon and nothing will stick, but more people are seeing through his ruse. He's shirked his responsibility more than any other US President.

    November 19, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  9. John C

    First the Emperor had no clothes and now that he put on some britches they are on fire! Can this guy tell the truth? can he even handle it?

    November 19, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. ratherbboating

    I am surprised that CNN is reporting this. Next thing you know they will be reporting that the unemployment numbers right before the election were cooked to help influence the prez election.

    November 19, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  11. shawn

    So Obama and Sebelius lied again, and again and again and again. This is getting ridiculous, in the words of a oft quoted football coach from Arizona (at least when he made the quote), 'They are who we thought they were!".

    November 19, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  12. Li

    Sounds just like the company I work for. It doesn't matter how often you point out that the product sucks, they release it anyway. After all, they'll still make money, and they can blame someone else for all the flaws.

    November 19, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  13. Tsimbi

    "White House warned of glitches..."

    In other words, Obama lied, he knew he lied, and he lied about not lying. Period!

    November 19, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  14. Rondo

    It must be getting really bad when CNN turns on hime now.

    November 19, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  15. Denise

    Really? This is deserving as front page headlines? What's going on in the Phillipines or the folks who lost their lives and homes in the Midwest due to tornado outbreak. What's going on in Afghanistan?

    November 19, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  16. Bobbie

    just received a ltter from Cigna yesterday. My rates will be going up 17.71% starting Jan.1 2014 due to Obamacare.

    November 19, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  17. Bill

    The website fiasco is the least of Obama’s troubles. It’s the breach of trust which is irreparable.

    Just wait until we see the upcoming outrage at provider networks because of Obamacare. Networks are getting "skinnier" in order to attempt to keep down costs. This means there will be fewer doctors and hospitals participating, leading to reduced choice and poorer care despite paying higher premiums and larger deductibles. Just another harmful consequence of a law that is so complex and poorly thought out. There is a big difference between health insurance and health care.

    The big shoe will drop this time next year when the employer mandate kicks in. 93 million people are predicted to lose their work sponsored health coverage because it doesn't meet the requirements of Obamacare. There is a reason Obama delayed the employer mandate until 2015; so he wouldn't feel the wrath of even more disillusioned voters.

    And if people are spending thousands of dollars more on healthcare premiums they are going to have less to spend on consumer goods, which will be another blow to an already weak economy.

    Senator Cruz looks like Nostradamus.

    November 19, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  18. Regular Reader

    Surprise, surprise.....More lying. Will somebody please just tell the truth!

    November 19, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  19. clouts

    So, basically, there isn't anything this Administration has said that is truthful. They ran on "change" (without ever saying 'how') and in transperant communications (which has been one falsehood after another).

    Very, very troubling

    November 19, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  20. Biotechdev

    Obama is lying about his lies. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s segment on ABC on Sunday just about perfectly encapsulates precisely why all of the feigned Democratic discomfort, disgruntlement, and even outrage pouring out over President Obama’s utterly shattered “if you like your plan, you can keep it” promise is so ludicrously disingenuous. As the Democrat from New York so aptly details, everybody involved always knew that lots of people losing their current insurance plans was not merely an accidental side feature but indeed a central premise of a functional ObamaCare rollout. People had to get kicked off of their plans at current market prices and start paying for more expensive ones in order to account for the inherently riskier insurance pools that ObamaCare creates by eschewing preexisting conditions limitations and bestowing everyone with more “comprehensive” coverage.

    November 19, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  21. New Rules

    More and more lies and coverup from Mister Transparent. He is a liar and the suckers that took the bait are responsible for his actions.

    November 19, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. uncdig

    his pants are on fire!

    November 19, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  23. NameLdm49

    One day Mr. Obama will realize 1 plus 1 equals 2 as opposed to letting his ego and blatant socialism disguised as false sense of ambition. It's math Mr president. Not a campaign.

    November 19, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  24. cleat

    Of course they knew...department of DUH.....

    November 19, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  25. dean

    I can't defend him anymore I used to call my republican friends nut jobs and racists and now I have to avoid them and I feel sick and don't want to go to work anymore because our insurance got jacked up and I'm tired of the evil stares........

    November 19, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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