ObamaCare contractors: Yeah, we really should have been given months for testing

posted at 4:01 pm on October 24, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

There was finger-pointing aplenty in today’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the healthcare rollout, as Ed predicted there would be from the prepared testimony; from other contractors to the federal administrators, from the supposedly prohibitive logjam of traffic to the “tyranny of the October 1st date” to last-minute changes disabling people from browsing without registering, there was much hemming and hawing over why, in the months leading up to it, “top administrators and lead contractors appeared before this committee, looked us in the eye, and assured us repeatedly that everything was on track,” as Chairman Fred Upton put it. Via Reuters:

One of the lead contractors responsible for developing the government’s troubled health-care website said Thursday his company warned the Obama administration about rollout risks, while another expressed confidence that it will be fixed in time for benefits to go live on Jan. 1.

Andrew Slavitt, executive vice president with the parent of Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), said his company told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of concerns about testing the Healthcare.gov website.

“We expressed all of those concerns and risks,” Slavitt said in testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, without immediately elaborating on what those concerns were. …

“The system is working. People are enrolling. But people will be able to enroll at a faster pace,” said Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president at CGI Federal. …

Slavitt blamed the administration, saying that a late decision to require consumers to create accounts before they could browse health plans contributed to the overload. “This may have driven higher simultaneous usage of the registration system that wouldn’t have occurred if consumers could window-shop anonymously,” he said.

Despite Campbell having noted in her prepared remarks that “no amount of testing within reasonable time limits can adequately replicate a live environment of this nature,” the contractors all more or less attested that the less than two weeks of testing that did go down was grossly, negligently inadequate. Rep. Greg Walden took them to the woodshed:

And as the Democrat representing Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshool pointed out, “high volumes” is a pretty lame excuse for what’s causing all of the website problems. There are plenty of websites that get way more traffic without crashing, and I would add that underestimating the volume of people checking out a website for a product that they are now legally required to purchase is borderline farcical.

Secretary Sebelius and other healthcare officials are set to testify in front of the committee on Thursday of next week; reconciling their stories with the ones presented today in any sort of flattering light is going to be quite the task.


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