November 6th, 2013
01:41 AM ET
8 years ago

Documents show first days of Obamacare rollout worse than initially realized

Updated 4:19 p.m. ET, 11/6/2013

(CNN) - A stack of daily updates written by Obamacare contractors shows the October rollout hit more walls than previously known: In the first days, half of the calls to the phone center had problems, paper applications could not be processed and up to 40,000 people at a time were sitting in the waiting room of http://www.HealthCare.gov.

The 175 pages of internal updates during the sign-up chronicle the growing ailments and efforts to heal the system during October. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Republican Darrell Issa, obtained the documents from contractors involved and released them Wednesday.

"50% of the call center calls have issues," reads an entry on day three of the sign-up. "Anecdotal evidence supports a widerspread problem (with the call centers)," the October 3 document says.

Phone trouble continued into the next week. "Our call center reps can't see their screens," wrote an unnamed consultant on October 7. "So we need to train them ... with this issue." The following day, another note: "Call Center – Working with them to help them triage their issues."

At the same time, the paper applications starting to arrive were in limbo. "Serco still cannot process online the 500+ applications they have," reads one line from October 8 war room notes. Serco is the company paid to handle all the paperwork involved with the Affordable Care Acts sign-ups. Website problems meant that Serco, like individual consumers themselves, could not file applications online.

The Department of Health and Human Services points out the problems were at their worst at the beginning and either were fixed or are being fixed. “These are just notes by a contractor,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters wrote to CNN in a statement, stressing that these documents present just one piece of the HealthCare.gov effort. “Many of (the documents) are more than a month old and they reflect static points in time in a fast moving process. We have made significant progress, as we have worked to identify issues, diagnose them and fix them.”

The updates indicate that contractors waited for HHS before directing people to the paper applications. An October 3 entry reads that navigators needed "approval from leadership" before directing people to the paper option That approval seemed to come by October 21, when another entry indicates navigators should use the paper forms.

The contractor documents are an up-close look at the asteroid field of issues with the Obamacare launch.

According to the war room notes: On day one, October 1, the system mistakenly rejected 90% of Medicaid applicants. The next day, estimates counted 40,000 people in the HealthCare.gov waiting room, while just 100 people had enrolled. By day three, it was clear that insurers were not getting the data for people who had signed up for their plans.

Systemwide issues were compounded by more isolated problems. On day six, Utah asked to shut down its exchange because the main insurance provider in the state had not been able to set up its template in the system. A few days later, on October 9, contractor notes say that the entire system has skipped some questions or information for 30% of all applicants.

A few days later, and another specific problem: insurers in Oklahoma were confused over whether they had to provide coverage for bariatric weight loss surgery (they didn't, sparking the need for changes to some plans).

Issues continued, but after the first week, the trend turned more positive.

On October 9, the war room update for the morning says, "About 60% of applicants are getting into HealthCare.gov without sitting in the waiting room." That left 40% who still had to wait. But the number was a vast improvement from the 90% to 95% percent the week before.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • Healthcare • HHS • Obamacare
soundoff (385 Responses)
  1. DAVEnyusa

    So, America, how IS that Obama vote working out for ya?

    November 6, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Bruce bruce

    This is such a joke.

    November 6, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. The Truth Hurts

    Wow. I am shocked this admnistration lied again... YAWN.

    November 6, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Larry in Houston

    maybe they need to "delay" this whole debacle for a year.......and get some smart people, that knows how to get this web-site going, to the point where they can set it up, where 315 million can sign up at the same time.....This figure I am using, is the approx. amount of people that lives in the U.S. .......every man / woman / & child........

    I was being a bit feticious – but they need to be able to set up a web-site, where millions can log on at the same time...Otherwise people will be walking away from this debacle, fast......and most likely won't bother to return.....problem is : those are the ones they are depending on, to finance this debacle.....LOL

    November 6, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  5. ldean50

    I don't know where these so-called "numbers" are coming from. I'm a volunteer navigator in the state of NC. I volunteered after our Koch-brothers-back governor chose NOT to expand Medicaid in our state (which would have come directly from Federal Tax dollars sent to Washington from NC taxpayers. Last week, we signed up 653 families in one county for the Affordable Care Act. Just sayin' ... be careful what you read.

    November 6, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. rgcnn

    My insurance is going up next year. From $1800 to almost $4000!!! Thank you Mr President!!!!

    November 6, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. TransitDave

    It ain't the website. It's the whole idea of the governent taking over our heathcare system, and it ain't gonna work

    November 6, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. WakeUpPeople

    IF you deploy unqualified, incompetent people into key positions to lead and manage complex IT projects BASED ON PURCHASED CREDENTIALS you get what you engage: FAILURE. Remember – This was not a "technical failure". This was a managerial failure. Make no mistake about it. Hire talent who can handle BOTH management and technical. If you can't discover who that talent is – quit and remove yourself from the staffing equation. WE ARE LOSING OUR ECONOMY DUE TO THIS STAFFING IGNORANCE. WAKE UP AMERICA before its too late.

    November 6, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. tim

    The Govt doesn't have the right to force us to buy any thing, period.

    November 6, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. Franklin

    Non truther in chief!

    November 6, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. NorCalMojo

    How many of the new applicants will save $2500 on their healthcare?

    November 6, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Selmers

    Yay! These are the people who will be handling your healthcare and medical records.

    November 6, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Bob

    Go team Obama!!! Nice work on voting this lying president into office.

    November 6, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Polar Bear

    Corruption at it's most extreme! Which know-nothing Obama supporters got obscenely compensated for building this website? Time to name names. Glitches are one thing but this is criminal!

    November 6, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. rad666

    has Obama drawn a red line as to when this should be fixed by?

    November 6, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Polar Bear

    The most definitive example yet of why government should have nothing to do with healthcare.

    November 6, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Nancy

    What a joke..... why are they still "trying" to do this.... just throw this whole idea in the trash, where it belongs. Millions, millions dollars spent .... enough already..... what a JOKE !!!!!!!!!!! well whoever voted for Obama, hope you see what ya'll did....... I know I did NOT vote for him. I realize it's not just Obama, but he is the main source of this stupid crap.....

    November 6, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Alan

    President Obama should be applauded for providing healthcare to millions, doing something to reduce the federal deficit and doing the right thing for people who are denied healthcare and go bankrupt. The glitchy website will get fixed and millions will benefit. The GOP are scared it will work too well and their silly whining about death panels and scare tactics will be seen as exactly what it is...scare tactics...sorry GOP.....people aren't listening to your bs anymore

    November 6, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. BeltwayBandit

    Please outsource ObamaCare website to Indian programmers, they are sending satellite to Mars for $70 millions, they should get the website done quicker and cheaper.

    November 6, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Deomcorats,Obama bad for America.

    Another Epic failure by Obama and the Democrats, just one of many.

    November 6, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. URDUNSON

    Just more ways for the government to make citizens depend on them, this is the beginning of socialism and control over our rights. Next step, amendment control.

    November 6, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. CITIZEN

    This "healthcare" system is nothing but a mess and will never straighten out. Im looking forward to election day. we actually need someone who is "going to make a change". too bad all politics and government are all corrupt.

    November 6, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Deomcorats,Obama bad for America.

    Alan

    President Obama should be applauded for providing healthcare to millions, doing something to reduce the federal deficit and doing the right thing for people who are denied healthcare and go bankrupt. The glitchy website will get fixed and millions will benefit. The GOP are scared it will work too well and their silly whining about death panels and scare tactics will be seen as exactly what it is...scare tactics...sorry GOP.....people aren't listening to your bs anymore
    __________________________________________________
    They really got you brainwashed =)

    November 6, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. gstlab3

    I hope everyone is happy the way vote turned out yesterday.,
    I do'nt think it matters when you really look at who these people are and where they are coming from and where they end up going.
    This is a fine hot mess the so called leaders have brought to the American people.
    The sad part is more and more people do not trust the government.,
    may be it is'nt so sad if you stop and think beyond the politics.

    November 6, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. TheOpinionatedOne

    The administration lied to WE, THE PEOPLE. So, I'm asking when are impeachment proceedings going to commence!??!?!

    November 6, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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