Up to 40 Percent of Healthcare.gov Still in Development, Says CMS Official

By:  Michael Tennant
11/21/2013
       
Up to 40 Percent of Healthcare.gov Still in Development, Says CMS Official

An Obama administration official told a House subcommittee Tuesday that "30 to 40 percent" of the supporting code for the federal ObamaCare website still has to be built.

For some time now, the Obama administration has been saying that Healthcare.gov, the federal ObamaCare exchange website, will be fully functional by November 30 — two months after it was first opened to the public and promptly crashed. However, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao, as much as 40 percent of the website’s supporting systems remain in development, suggesting that such administration pronouncements are exceedingly optimistic.

“It’s not that it’s not working,” Chao told a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday. “It’s still being developed and tested.”

Chao testified that the consumer interface is complete: “The online application, verification, documentation, plan compare, generating enrollment, that’s 100 percent.” But that part of the website is most definitely not working, as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discovered when the site crashed before her eyes during a Tuesday appearance in Miami, Florida.

Grilled by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) as to how much of the rest of the software still needs to be built, Chao estimated “30 to 40 percent.” What’s left, he said, are “the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems.”

“We still need to build the payments system to make the payments [to insurance companies] in January,” he explained.

Chao’s estimate is “an astounding percentage,” observed ForbesAvik Roy. “Apparently, the accounting systems and payment systems that protect taxpayers against waste, fraud, and abuse — systems that also ensure that insurers get paid, and that premium subsidies are accurately doled out — have not yet been built.”

This also casts doubt on the administration’s claims of hundreds of thousands of ObamaCare enrollees since “technically, you haven’t enrolled in a health insurance policy until the insurer has collected the first premium from the beneficiary,” Roy averred.

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