Obamacare website fixed by end-November: official
By Caroline Humer and Sharon Begley ,ReutersThe website for Americans to buy insurance under U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare law should be working smoothly for most users by the end of November, a White House official assigned to fix Healthcare.gov said on Friday.
October 27, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Jeffrey Zients also told reporters in a conference call that Quality Software Services Inc, or QSSI, will now serve as a general contractor to oversee repairs to the glitch-ridden website.
The administration has not had a technology company overseeing the entire project. Instead, the government decided early on that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, would serve as the system integrator.
Republican critics and technology experts have questioned whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had the experience and know-how to handle such a complex task.
Online insurance exchanges launched on Oct. 1 under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” to offer health insurance plans to millions of uninsured people in the United States. But many have experienced error messages and long waits in trying to sign on to Healthcare.gov, which has become a political embarrassment for Obama.
“By the end of November, the vast majority of consumers will be able to successfully and smoothly enroll through Healthcare.gov,” Zients said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is battling some Republicans' calls for her resignation, said on Friday that the website has clearly not lived up to its full potential. But she said it is not beyond hope.
“We want to dispel the notion that the website is fatally flawed. It can be fixed and it will be fixed,” said Sebelius, speaking at forum on enrollment in the new national healthcare system in San Antonio, Texas.
The White House said last week that Obama still has “full confidence” in Sebelius, whose department is responsible for implementing the law.
Sebelius on Friday said calls for her resignation are coming from lawmakers who “unfortunately have been ferociously opposed to the expansion of healthcare.”
QSSI, a unit of health insurer UnitedHealth Group, already has a technology contract related to the website and testified on Thursday to a congressional panel about problems with the system.
QSSI produced the federal data hub and a software tool to register consumers before allowing them to browse, a requirement that caused early logjam problems.
However, Andrew Slavitt, executive vice president with QSSI's parent, testified that it was the administration that did not fully test the website until the last minute and also introduced the account creation feature just 10 days before launch.