Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
By Jim Acosta and Dana Davidsen
(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.
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