California shuts down small-biz ObamaCare web portal

posted at 8:41 am on February 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

While we focus on the travails of the federal Healthcare.gov exchange for ObamaCare, don’t forget that the state exchanges aren’t necessarily faring much better. As the White House hailed new enrollment numbers that looked less than hailable on closer examination, the nation’s most populous state decided to shut down a key component of their own system. Covered California’s small-business exchange, SHOP Marketplace, will remain closed for months:

The nation’s most populous state has elected to temporarily shutter its new online health insurance marketplace for small business only four months after it launched, dealing yet another blow to a key element of the health care law meant to lower costs for employers.

California officials on Wednesday announced they are suspending online enrollment effective immediately for small businesses on the state’s new health insurance portal, known as Covered California. Health plans available through the state’s Small Business Health Options Program (or SHOP) will still be available but can only be purchased over the phone, via paper applications or through insurance agents.

State health officials say they will use the time to “implement a series of redesigns.”

“The SHOP portal was not meeting the needs of agents or small employers and needed improvements,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said in a statement announcing the decision. “Taking the portal offline will not affect the paper application process, which has been the preferred enrollment method traditionally used by insurance agents in the small-group market.”

The state has not made a decision whether to retain the company responsible for the web-site failure as yet. Care to guess what company that turns out to be?  No, it’s not CGI Federal, who recently got fired by HHS for its Healthcare.gov woes. Instead, it turns out to be … the same company that got the replacement contract on a no-bid basis:

Accenture is the lead contractor on Covered California’s SHOP program. Hicks said it remains to be seen if the company will be retained.

Accenture officials had yet to respond to requests for comments. There are no reports of similar issues with other states’ SHOP portals.

Yes, Accenture turns out to be just as incompetent as CGI Federal, even on the smaller scale of the SHOP Marketplace portal, which served small businesses of under 50 employees voluntarily looking for health insurance coverage for their workers. Changing from CGI Federal to Accenture might not be much of a difference in competence — and not much of a difference in personnel, either.  I linked this NYT report earlier in the week, but it’s worth a second look in this context:

After denigrating the work of CGI and replacing it as the largest contractor on the federal health care website, the Obama administration is negotiating with the company to extend its work on the project for a few months.

And the new prime contractor, Accenture, is trying to recruit and hire CGI employees to work under its supervision. …

The government altered the proposed contract over the weekend, the person said, to identify specific CGI employees whom federal officials wanted to retain.

“This appears to be a typical government contract shuffle,” Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a software development company in Vienna, Va., said of the handoff. “A new company wins the contract and hires many of the old people. It happens all the time in government.”

That’s true, but usually it happens when the government wants to retain competency and continuity on successful programs. In this case, neither company has proven competent at its work in this field on large or small scales. Don’t expect anything to improve while HHS merely shuffles letterheads while keeping the same people who produced failure after failure on the job.


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Political Incest?……I’m Shocked,….SHOCKED I Tell ‘ya

Offhanded on February 14, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Getting closer to single payer…

OmahaConservative on February 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Cronyism only works if the crony is competent.

crankyoldlady on February 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

No big deal, small businesses can simply arrange for everything over the phone with some flunky who just got paroled and for whom English is a third language.

How many stories have there been that the phone people and even the agents simply go to the website which is now shut down; what an effin disaster.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Getting closer to single payer…

OmahaConservative on February 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Yeah, it is becoming clear the plan is to be so grossly incompetent that the filthy rat-eared bastard has to jump in and “fix” things by single payer.

Happy Nomad on February 14, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Cronyism only works if the crony is competent.

crankyoldlady on February 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Not so! The crony can be incompetent so long as there is no accountability. CGI Federal is an outstanding example. A NO-BID contract worth $600M given to the racist college friend of Mooch. Where is the federal demand that CGI return the taxpayer’s money they defrauded from the government? Betcha anything that Mooch’s pal funneled millions of that stolen money into OFA.

Happy Nomad on February 14, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Healthcare done…

MyRA next…

This is what government do when they run out of money…they come after yours…

Beware…

PatriotRider on February 14, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Shut up righties….you’re just jealous obamacare is working
-delusional lefties

They are wearing their rose colored glasses and being fed horse manure on politico and the other websites they cling to

LA LA LA can’t hear you

cmsinaz on February 14, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Guess who built it?

The government built it.

forest on February 14, 2014 at 9:02 AM

That kind of disaster is why there is no federal small-biz PlaceboCare website.

That and the fact one is more thoroughly hooked if on the individual PlaceboCare plan.

Steve Eggleston on February 14, 2014 at 9:02 AM

what an effin disaster.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Disaster, seriously? Dude this is SOP here in CA. If anything in this state went according to plan bureaucrats at the highest level would be tied in knots trying to figure out what went wrong.

antipc on February 14, 2014 at 9:03 AM

can only be purchased over the phone, via paper applications or through insurance agents.

It won’t be long before the web sites are trashed.The agents know how to sell and process a policy.Millions of tax payer dollars stolen or flushed down the sewer.You always hear about the perfect crime and they have pulled it off with no worries about prosecution.

docflash on February 14, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Healthcare done…

MyRA next…

This is what government do when they run out of money…they come after yours…

Beware…

PatriotRider on February 14, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Yes, it sounded like throw-away nonsense at the SOTU, but things are always more sinister than they initially appear with this Regime.

forest on February 14, 2014 at 9:03 AM

California shuts down small-biz

Could have stopped there.

steebo77 on February 14, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Getting closer to single payer…

OmahaConservative on February 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Yeah, it is becoming clear the plan is to be so grossly incompetent that the filthy rat-eared bastard has to jump in and “fix” things by single payer.

Happy Nomad on February 14, 2014 at 8:50 AM

These.

At some point a Grand Announcement from On High will be to the effect of “We tried to involve the free market system in this and it has failed. I am thereby signing an executive order mandating all health insurance companies are removed from the marketplace and all care will be provided, free of charge, by the government. It’s the only fair thing to do.”

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Anybody keeping track of all the taxpayer billions that have been wasted on this ludicrous nonsense through sheer incompetence and/or massive fraud in the set-ups of all these non-working websites?

AZCoyote on February 14, 2014 at 9:23 AM

You know what else would be just wonderful to know…how many of the CGI people will go to work for Accenture doing the exact same thing they were doing on the Fed Website before CGI lost the contract. It’s not like Accenture has 150 people just sitting around waiting for the new work…they will be hiring some percentage of developers to run and work on this contract…and I can almost guarantee some of them will move over from CGI. Yes, that’s how this works.

Youngs98 on February 14, 2014 at 9:26 AM

At some point a Grand Announcement from On High will be to the effect of “We tried to involve the free market system in this and it has failed. I am thereby signing an executive order mandating all health insurance companies are removed from the marketplace and all care will be provided, free of charge, by the government. It’s the only fair thing to do.”

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

I’m beginning to mis George III.

katy the mean old lady on February 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

“You didn’t built that!!!”

Walter L. Newton on February 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM

At some point a Grand Announcement from On High will be to the effect of “We tried to involve the free market system in this and it has failed. I am thereby signing an executive order mandating all health insurance companies are removed from the marketplace and all care will be provided, free of charge, by the government. It’s the only fair thing to do.”

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

And if John Roberts thinks that’s gonna fly, prepare to become Venezuela.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 9:34 AM

I’m beginning to mis George III.

katy the mean old lady on February 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Give it a year or so. One other nifty thing we will have going for us is Jayz and Beyonce will be the Royal Musicians. I can’t wait to hear their Royal Tribute Song, complete with Miley Cyrus Twerking Moves

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:37 AM

And if John Roberts thinks that’s gonna fly, prepare to become Venezuela.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Well duh, of course it’s going to fly. It’s a Tax, don’cha know?

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Also remember that Accenture is the company being investigated by the feds for the catastrophic Oregon website.

It looks like they helped set up fake websites in order to show progress and keep the federal money flowing.

Our ta dollars at work….

MaaddMaaxx on February 14, 2014 at 9:51 AM

That’s true, but usually it happens when the government wants to retain competencyand continuity on successful programs

Ed. There’s nothing proving that the workerbees themselves are incompetent but we do know that government program managers that are libturds are in fact delusional and incompetent. The workerbees do what they’re told even if they know what is demanded of them will lead to failure. Even if you find one of them, they won’t tell you about the debacle due to non-disclosure agreements.

AH_C on February 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM

“Taking the portal offline will not affect the paper application process, which has been the preferred enrollment method traditionally used by insurance agents in the small-group market.”

Hold up a sec there, Zippy.

Didn’t Obama sell the online portals as a way to shop for the policies and drive competition among the offerings?

Hoe does one do that with the paper application process? You know, the method traditionally used by insurance agents.

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

I’m beginning to mis George III.

What’s the difference between Kings and Mr Obama?
Kings can be beheaded.

orangemtl on February 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM

I didn’t build that.
And I sure am glad…

Doc Holliday on February 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM

It happens all the time in government.

Insanity: repeating mistakes over and over and expecting a different result.

PattyJ on February 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM

the same company that got the replacement contract on a no-bid basis:

Halliburton?

rbj on February 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM

At some point a Grand Announcement from On High will be to the effect of “We tried to involve the free market system in this and it has failed. I am thereby signing an executive order mandating all health insurance companies are removed from the marketplace and all care will be provided, free of charge, by the government. It’s the only fair thing to do.”

USNCVN on February 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it will be that easy. Single payer isn’t something that can be done via EO as BO can’t come up with the money required w/o some action by the House and Senate. If the loonies once again control all 3 branches, then we need to worry.

climbnjump on February 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM

This is why we can’t have nice things.

GWB on February 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it will be that easy. Single payer isn’t something that can be done via EO as BO can’t come up with the money required w/o some action by the House and Senate. If the loonies once again control all 3 branches, then we need to worry.

climbnjump on February 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Pfft. Who do you think prints the money?

GWB on February 14, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Political Incest?……I’m Shocked,….SHOCKED I Tell ‘ya

Offhanded on February 14, 2014 at 8:45 AM

But at least that VA federal judge has declared it to be legal

Nutstuyu on February 14, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Accenture………

Darrell Issa should get out a shovel and dig around that rotting stench….we ain’t seen nothing yet……

RealMc on February 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

I smell the typical stench of corruption in both the public and private sector from this cesspit of failure.

Maybe they will get the folks that did the ‘audit’ of Covered Oregon to do one for this program too.

s1im on February 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM