White House pushes back on Obamacare reports
November 23rd, 2013
07:19 PM ET
5 months ago

White House pushes back on Obamacare reports

Washington (CNN) - The White House had to defend its rollout of the President's signature health care legislation Saturday after two scathing reports that allege missteps, miscommunication and lack of leadership sank the launch of Obamacare's online exchanges.

The New York Times and the Washington Post each reported on a meeting between contractor CGI Federal and government employees at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in late August.


CGI won the main contract to build the Obamacare website, and CMS, the branch of the Department of Health and Human Services that was overseeing the launch, was growing worried the site was riddled with flaws and unprepared for day one.

The meetings were candid, but tense, according to the reports. Only five and a half weeks until the October 1 deadline, the majority of the 95 elements needed for the site’s functionality were not ready, by CGI's own evaluation; later, more than a dozen that were categorized as ready failed further testing.

In interviews with administration officials and a review of government and contractor documents, the reports show that CGI argued an October 1 deadline was impossible, given how complex and cutting-edge the government said the site needed to be. What’s more, without a high-level point person leading the operation for the government, CGI said it was difficult to get timely answers and understand the administration’s shifting vision, said the Times.

For the administration, that October 1 deadline was non-negotiable, and despite the warnings, it ordered CGI to push ahead while growing more and more frustrated with the contractor’s sloppy coding and missed deadlines, according to the report.

"If we could fire them, we would," said Michelle Snyder, CMS's chief operating officer, according to the New York Times.

The White House confirmed the meetings, via a statement from CMS on Saturday.

"In the months leading up to October, CMS engaged in hundreds of operationally focused planning conversations on processes, procedures and work to prepare for the beginning of open enrollment on October 1st. The meeting between CMS and contractors on August 22 and 23rd was part of the ongoing discussion," it said.

The statement went on to defend the troubled rollout and try to explain the decisions detailed in the reports, arguing the October 1 deadline was most important and promising further functions down the line.

"This was a complex project with a short timeline, and CMS prioritized essential functionality to be live on October 1st to ensure that consumers would be able to apply for eligibility and select a plan. A variety of operational topics were discussed at the meeting, and decisions were later made about priorities for October 1. Other functionality will come online over time," it said.

CGI Federal declined to comment, saying, “While we understand our silence leaves us exposed to others' conclusions, out of respect for CMS and all of our clients, we strongly believe in honoring our contractual commitments.”

The administration has now pledged that the site would be fully functional for most users by November 30.


Filed under: Obamacare
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Gunderson

    So,
    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...........

    November 23, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. wendel

    stop defending your self web site will be fixed the majority of people will have affordable health care. better most than none. keep going show examples as to how it is working. crush the repo game book plan. they are a whole party of trolls trying to keep Americans from having health insurance. they must all have insurance stock.

    November 23, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  3. California

    White House lying AGAIN.

    November 23, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Next up , deal with Iran .

    Diplomacy , thats a great word .

    November 23, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. Big Truck Joe

    Obama lied ... Healthcare Died.

    November 23, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  6. Big Truck Joe

    Indeed, these are troubling times for the young and attractive Indonesian actor who plays the president of the USA on TV.

    November 23, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Big Truck Joe

    Look all you naysayers- making this healthcare stuff up on the fly isn't easy work. You think its child's play to take over 1/5th of the economy without a ton of unintended consequences? That's alot of missed rounds of golf because of this whole healthcare deal. Indeed, this is quite a dilemma for the handsome young Indonesian actor, Barry Sotero, who plays the U.S. president on TV.

    November 23, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. Sumsanity

    Call Obama President Aflac. He's just a lame duck selling insurance.

    November 23, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  9. croaton999

    More lies and deceit. This administration has proven itself to be completely incompetent. How many times is time enough?

    November 24, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  10. king

    the only thing that viable is if the American people will get covered at a lower price, and i am not talking about junk policies that push millions to bankruptcy over a decade. lesson folks you have to look through all the smoke screan of negativity from the repubs and see the massive scope of this plan, which will be a miracle if it went smoothly, especially if they have an all out war on the other side to take this law down. the repubs have been lying for the past 5 years that the law will destroy our economy and America as it is, yet all i see is success success success, have anyone seen the stock market lately, have anyone noticed that we've went from 85 hundred thousand job lost a month to 43 month of straight job gain when did that happened in our nations history.

    November 24, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    This simply is very revealing, in that the only real thing that Obama has done, since taking office, is a huge failure.

    November 24, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. Anonymous

    You know what really needs to be done here is Socialized Medicine. I have advocated this for years. . That's what is really needed in this country.

    November 24, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. What's new?

    Welcome to the future ObamaCare era, where government bureaucrats will take no responsibility for snafus and their incompetent oversight, blame others, and force American citizens to endure the pain.

    November 24, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Logictox

    "Scathing reports that allege missteps, miscommunication and lack of leadership sank the launch of Obamacare's online exchanges."

    All that and a fundamentally flawed idea to start with.

    November 24, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. Chris Asking Question

    "If we could fire them, we would," said Michelle Snyder, CMS's chief operating officer, according to the New York Times.

    Why don't we fire the CMS and DHHS officials responsible for oversight of the contract?

    November 24, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  16. beavis

    They delayed it until after the elections.....Isn't that what Barry REFUSED to do during the shut down with those republican TERRORISTS???

    November 24, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. SteveinLVNV

    This administration can't stand bad news, especially about OWEbamaCare ! They will spin any lie, pushback on any unfavorable report, and minimize any problem. For them the truth is what they say it is... They have lost their credibility for sure.

    November 24, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. govt does nothing well

    It should be repealed based on the fact that it was sold by a lie. It would not have passed if it were sold as is. This is illegal in the private sector. False advertising.

    November 24, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Tom1940

    What is there to push back against by the administration? A dismal failure, is exactly that. A dismal failure. Scrap it and go back to the drawing boards.

    November 24, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Fair is fair

    Obama should go back to selling weed

    November 24, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Lizzie

    beavis, now that the democrats that are up for reelection are worried about their jobs, he will do anything to delay the enrollment, to save their butts.

    November 24, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. asokasus

    I don't think propaganda can make 7 million health insurance cancellation letters disappear. Nor can it make a broken website function. It can't make Medicaid-like "Bronze" plans look like the excellent plans so many people used to have before obamacare cancelled them. Nor can it assuage the sticker shock because the new prices are 41% higher on average than before. Nor can it make the more than doubled out-of-pocket costs simply disappear.

    Who you gonna believe? Obama or your lying eyes?

    November 24, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. Too Scruffy

    This whole 'BamaCare roll-out is like Barry just walked across some new white carpet with dog crap ion his shoes. Now he's blaming the dog.

    November 24, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Kilo

    From all I read in these posts most voters are too lazy to do the research and accept what Politicians Republicans and Democrats alike , are Saying. Trust No Politician, Verify Verify Verify. Before you say a thing about me spend the time to look these facts up for yourself !!!!!!!!!!!

    Those bleeding hearts that say what about the 40 million without health insurance are Ignorant or plain Stupid people who make decisions and base their ideology on less than 20 words. This is the same mentality that terrorist groups look for to recruit suicide bombers.

    I hear it now “Death to all infidels” the Koran is referring to those Muslims who are unfaithful to Islam. How can you be an Infidel and unfaithful to Islam if your not a Muslim?. How can you afford health insurance at any price if you have no income.

    The Census Bureau's pre -2012 election employment figures were faked The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon

    Here are some current figures look them up for yourself .

    As of January 1 2013 the U.S. residential population is 317.2 million.
    The labor force is 154.8 million (down from 155.8 in 2012)
    Number employed 143.6 million (down from144.1 million in 2012)
    number of unemployed 11.8 million
    Persons who want a job 6.2 million

    The 11.8 million unemployed with no income to pay for health insurance are part of the 40 million uninsured, add another 27 million Americans Who are “not” looking for a job, this includes the 21 million who are in college, many of who are too old to be on their parents insurance. Add he 6 million who do not qualify for Medicaid because their income is just above the eligibility limit, 11.8+21+6+ and you have 38.8 million uninsured. How the hell is Obama-care making Health care affordable.

    November 24, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. texasnotea

    The gop has a special hearing device installed in their ears, the"LALALALALALALALIMBAUGH" that blocks all truthful information from all credible sources.

    November 24, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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