The deeply flawed federal healthcare website has caused a mountain of difficulties for the Obama administration as they have looked to roll out the law, but now there are reports that White House officials at one point looked to do away with the website altogether.
President Obama publicly has been promoting his law, saying that “interest way exceeded expectations, and that’s the good news” during the first weekend. Privately, a different question is being explored according to the NY times: “Should we just take the website down altogether for a time so it can be fixed?”
One senior White House official reportedly said that the administration considered scrapping the website but eventually came to the conclusion that the website would be fixable.
In an article that was published Dec. 1, the New York Times details some of the major missteps that took place in the weeks and months leading up to the botched Oct. 1st rollout. Because the federal website covers 36 states that have not set up their own state exchanges, there were complexities that had not been fully tested yet as the rollout day approached. In addition, HealthCare.gov “was flailing in part because of the Medicare agency’s decision not to hire a ‘systems integrator’ who could coordinate its complex parts.”
When federal bureaucrats were finally forced to work together to solve the dysfunction and improve healthcare.gov, what became exposed was “a deeply dysfunctional relationship between the Department of Health and Human Services and its technology contractors, and tensions between the White House chief of staff and senior health department officials.”
In addition, the administration has faced the aftermath of millions of Americans getting their insurance policies cancelled even though they were promised by Obama countless times that they would be able to keep it if they liked it. Obama eventually agreed to sign an executive order that granted a one-year reprieve for Americans who’s insurance had been cancelled as a result of the law.
The New York Times article reported that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was optimistic as Oct 1st approached. She said, “We’re about to make some history,” White House officials were just as excited about the high traffic on the first day. “The traffic is really high,” was the observation made by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Meanwhile, the technology firm based out of Canada who did most of the work on healthcare.gov was becoming frantic. “They were beginning to realize what the White House did not: that the exchange’s problems involved much more than delays caused by high traffic. Errors were popping up everywhere. Software that assigned identities to enrollees and ensured that they saw only their own personal data, known internally as the EIdM, was being quickly overwhelmed. Customers could not log in to create accounts.”
Because the website lacked so much of the testing that would have been essential to a smooth launch, “A system intended to handle 50,000 simultaneous users was fundamentally unstable, unable to handle even a tiny fraction of that. As few as 500 users crippled it, according to people involved. “These are not glitches,” one insurance executive said, “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our calls, people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’
Written by Ben Walters
(H/T: NY Times, NewsMax)